Response to the Department for Education's Core Maths policy statement

07 March 2014

The Nuffield Foundation welcomes government plans to introduce new Core Maths level 3 qualifications designed to meet the needs of 16-18 year-olds who have a gained a grade C or higher at GCSE but do not wish to take AS/A level maths.

The need for new qualifications that provide a clear and attractive alternative for students who don’t go on to study AS or A level Mathematics was the key recommendation of our Towards universal participation report, published last year and based on a comparative study of mathematics education led by Professor Jeremy Hodgen at King’s College London.

Late last year, the Department for Education set out its plans to introduce such qualifications in its Policy Statement on the introduction of 16 to 18 core maths qualifications.

While we welcome the new qualification(s) as a much-needed alternative to AS/A level maths, we urge the government to ensure their primary focus is on students who would not otherwise continue to study maths, rather than those who are willing and able to take existing AS/A level options. 

We are also concerned that the timetable for design and development of the new qualification(s) is too rushed, and believe that much more needs to be done to address the shortage of mathematics teachers. 

These points and others are made in more detail in our response to the Department for Education’s survey on the policy statement (PDF)