Carol Vorderman's Maths Report
08 Aug 2011
There's some good stuff in Carol Vorderman's report and I particularly like the idea of copying the English Language/English Literature idea in order to separate arithmetic and numeracy from more advanced mathematical concepts.
It will be interesting to see whether the criticism of Key Stage 2 SATS will sound the death knell for these increasingly beleaguered and unloved tests.
However we have been here before. Sir Mike Tomlinson warned years ago that GCSE maths and English failed to provide functional numeracy and literacy. The subsequent reforms for Diplomas, and the associated requirement that all pupils needed to pass at Functional Skills to gain the Diploma, would have sorted out this problem. But the current government has allowed the Diplomas to wither on the vine.
Additionally the last Labour government abandoned its earlier pledge to require all students to achieve functional skills in maths and English to achieve a grade C at GCSE. This was a missed opportunity.
The full Vorderman report is available here: www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2011/08/~/media/Files/Downloadable%20Files/Vorderman%20maths%20report.ashx
In his foreword, Education Secretary, Michale Gove, welcomes the report but does not comment specifically on the recommendation that maths SATs should be abolished.
- It is essential for us to consider all young people and much greater attention needs to be paid to those students (nearly half of each cohort) who currently are deemed to ‘fail’ mathematics at age 16. We believe that it is largely the system which fails those students. We must recognise that their requirements are different from those of the top 15% who currently go on to study mathematics to a more advanced level.
- The mathematics subject knowledge of primary school teachers and new trainees urgently needs to be improved.
- The Key Stage 2 National Test (SAT) in its current form should end. Research has suggested that most schools focus their mathematics education for a minimum of two terms on teaching to the test due to league table pressures: thus, SATs can actually depress mathematical standards.
- We are advising a radical change in mathematics education from the age of 14 to 18 with two critical recommendations. The first involves fundamental changes to GCSE. The first recommendation is that the present GCSE Mathematics system should be replaced by one offering two GCSEs (as exists for English Language and English Literature) as soon as possible.The second is that there should be some form of compulsory mathematics education for all students to the age of 18.
The BBC news report on the story is here: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14437665