Mathematics in Further Education Colleges (MiFEC)

This project aims to produce robust, evidence-based advice for policymakers, college managers and practicioners on the critically important issue of how to improve the quality of mathematics education in England’s Further Education (FE) colleges.

Mathematics education remains a high priority for governments across the world. Evidence of the links between mathematics qualifications, employability and earnings is well documented. Yet, poor levels of adult numeracy, success rates at GCSE and comparatively low participation in post-16 mathematics continue to concern policymakers, employers and other stakeholders.

In recent years a great deal of policy and research attention has centred on advanced post-16 mathematics. This project will focus instead on mathematics within vocational pathways in FE colleges in England with a particular emphasis on the progression of those with low attainment at GCSE.

The project will produce the following:

  • a ‘state of the art’ review of relevant research and grey literature
  • analyses of students’ mathematical progression and outcomes in FE using the latest administrative datasets (the Individualised Learner Record) and panel surveys (Next Steps)
  • institutional case studies and analyses to explore how FE colleges have responded to policy and funding changes, to provide a more in depth understanding of how these may impact  curriculum provision, learner pathways, workforce training and development needs.

The project takes a multi-scale view of this complex system, using a mixed-methods research design to investigate the interlinking factors that shape the mathematics learning experiences and trajectories of young people, the intersection of their mathematical and vocational learning and the ways that policies and practices are enacted in FE colleges.