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Algebra out and reading online maps in! Proposed new maths GCSE resit exam


Created on 24 January 2020 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 24 January 2020 by ncetm_administrator

A new curriculum for students resitting GCSE Maths proposes dropping large sections of the algebra that is currently tested and ending the need for students to draw obscure constructions with ruler and compasses. 

In their place come topics much closer to the needs of everyday life and work, such as understanding inflation, using online maps to plan journeys, and getting the most out of spreadsheets.

The proposal comes from the NCETM’s partner organisation, MEI, after a year-long study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The objective was to address the fact that, at present, around 75 percent of students resitting the existing GCSE fail to get a pass at grade 4 or above, which can leave them with a lasting sense of failure and a lifelong negative attitude towards maths.

MEI are calling for this new post-16 maths GCSE to be given equal status to the existing Foundation tier of GCSE Maths, and to become an alternative exam for those students having to resit.

The proposal, outlined in a detailed report out today, has been welcomed by several influential figures, including:

  • Professor Adrian Smith (author of two government reports on maths education) ‘…a well thought out blueprint for a new curriculum.’
  • Josh Hillman (Nuffield Foundation) ‘We welcome this proposal for an alternative, more practically focused GCSE.’
  • David Hughes (Association of Colleges) ‘The proposed curriculum would better engage and motivate students who achieved grade 3 or below at 16.’
  • Jill Durrant (Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust), ‘If this new GCSE develops the maths most needed for the workplace and boosts confidence, then it has to be a good thing.’

Charlie Stripp, MEI’s Chief Executive, and Director of the NCETM, said:

‘It has been clear for years that the current resit policy is not fit for purpose for young people who do not succeed in maths at age 16. These young people deserve better!’ 

Read the full report for more explanation of the rationale behind the proposal, and, in the Executive Summary, full details of topics that would be in, and left out of, the proposed new qualification.


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