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Should children be taught maths until 18?

(87 Posts)
Mitmoo Mon 08-Aug-11 08:04:59

Children should be taught maths up to the age of 18 to avert the ‘educational catastrophe’ of 300,000 teenagers a year failing to grasp the basics, a hard-hitting report claims.

By 16 there is a ‘colossal’ ten-year range in mathematical learning between students, the report by former Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman reveals.

She calls for a ‘mathematics for citizenship’ course to be introduced for those studying A-levels that don’t involve the subject. And she recommends splitting the maths GCSE into two qualifications, one designed for those going on to A-level.

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Surely if children havent grasped the basics by 16 after 12 years of education another two isn't going to make much of a difference?

TrillianAstra Mon 08-Aug-11 08:23:13

No, they should just be taught maths better earlier on.

TrillianAstra Mon 08-Aug-11 08:23:40

Oh, and YABU because you have posted in AIBU but have not asked as "Am I Being Unreasonable?" question.

redexpat Mon 08-Aug-11 08:31:47

Aren't GCSE papers already spilt into foundation and higher level papers? Seems a bit pointless to add to the work load of sixthformers who are capable just because some of their peers aren't.

Mitmoo Mon 08-Aug-11 08:32:29

Triallian hmm I am sorry that you don't feel you have anything of substance to add to an important issue for our children.

Carol Vorderman is saying that if children fail their sats at primary then 90% will go on to fail their exams in secondary. So I can't see what flogging a dead horse will achieve. It has to be better teaching at an earlier age throughout school.

Though she is asking for two tier mathematics teaching but the suggestions she's making is largely happening already.

Bonsoir Mon 08-Aug-11 08:33:09

Yes, maths should be taught right up to 18, as should English. Maths is very easy to forget, so the longer it is taught the better.

Mitmoo Mon 08-Aug-11 08:34:27

redex I am sure they are, she is saying that working out mobile phone tarriffs should be used but teachers are already making maths relevant to youngsters in the classrooms, well good teachers are anyway.

Mitmoo Mon 08-Aug-11 08:36:11

Bonsoir If a child has gone through 12 years of being educated and is not good at maths but say excels at English, I'd rather them focus on English for those two years or whatever area they have strengths in.

When or if they go to university they will only be studying one subject, surely it is better to focus on that?

Iggly Mon 08-Aug-11 08:37:04

Agree that something needs to be done earlier. It should also not be acceptable for someone to just not be good at maths and shrugged off. Yes of course some people will always struggle with the subject but it is a life skill to be able to manage your money etc, some of which comes from being able to add up.

I think we need different ways of teaching maths. People respond o different methods - I didn't get it until I was a bit older and ended up doing maths (amongst other subjects) at uni.

EdithWeston Mon 08-Aug-11 08:37:48

Am I imagining it, or wasn't there a thread about this a few weeks ago?

If anyone else remembers it (and can find it!), could you be kind and link it here?

BTW: Carole Vorderman was the head of a panel looking into this. Does anyone know who the other members were?

Bonsoir Mon 08-Aug-11 08:38:31

No, general education is important and the UK is very unusual among developed countries in not insisting on maths being taught up until the point at which children leave school.

My sister and I (who were not educated in the UK) are still often shock at "how crap British women are at maths" (my sister's quote), when those self-same women think they are highly educated (Oxbridge grads with professional careers).

LynetteScavo Mon 08-Aug-11 08:40:14

What TrillianAstra said.

And "fail their sats" ? Do you mean achieve a grade below a 4b?

And extra 2 years can mean the difference between gaining a C grade at GCSE or not, so the option of continuing with maths should be available.

echt Mon 08-Aug-11 08:40:52

In my bit of Oz, English is compulsory right to the end of schooling, indeed, it is the only compulsory subject for academic progression. No English= no university

AtYourCervix Mon 08-Aug-11 08:41:53

Absolutely not.

Some people are good at maths and numbers and understand them - therefore are more likely to end up doing jobs which need mathematical skills.

Other people are crap and just can't. Therefore utterly pointless to enforce teaching 'Maths' beyond the basics.

Big difference between knowing how to add up your shopping or pay your bills and being forced to do quadratic equasions or trigonometry - neither of which I have ever needed to use.

You could say the same for any subject - languages for instance.

Chandon Mon 08-Aug-11 08:42:04

I agree Bonsoir, I was educated in Europe and Math A level was obligatory.

I always considered myself rubbish at Maths, but here (UK) people think I'm good with numbers confused

Penelope1980 Mon 08-Aug-11 08:42:49

I was allowed to stop learning maths at 16 (at school in NZ) against advice and it was the best thing I could have done. By 16 you have the basics, and it enabled me to concentrate on the subjects I really had a passion for like history, that I went on to study to postgrad level. I've got a great job now, and 16 years later have not regretting dropping maths for an instant.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 08-Aug-11 08:44:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Mon 08-Aug-11 08:46:00

I agree that maths should be better taught across the country.
As to maths being taught up to 18, I'd like to see a completely different syllabus for those who got their GCSE and aren't doing it for A level.
Practical maths that you could use every day as an adult, rather than knowing what the cross-section of a stellated icosahedron should look like, or obscure realms of algebra and statistics.

MrsTumbles Mon 08-Aug-11 08:46:11

I don't see how making A-level students study more maths would help at all really. A-levels are optional, and when I was looking at places to study A-level courses you couldn't do them unless you had GCSE's in Maths and English at C level or above (or were re-taking GCSE's in those subjects to improve your original grade)

So if you struggle at Maths you wouldn't have been able to do the A-levels where they want to include Maths anyway confused

However this was 13 years ago, maybe the rules on studying have changed since then?

Penelope1980 Mon 08-Aug-11 08:46:22

Bonsoir I disagree with your implication that being highly educated must involve maths skills. I know plenty of people that are good at maths that still have a very poor knowledge of other subject areas

Callisto Mon 08-Aug-11 08:47:31

It is almost seen as a good thing to be crap at maths. It is bizarre.

I think until the woeful standards of teaching maths and sciences are raised at primary it is pointless even teaching maths in secondary. Also, some children will have more of an aptitude for maths than others, but just because a child takes longer to understand a mathematical concept does not mean they are bad at maths, just that they take longer to understand. Here again, teaching needs to be more sympathetic to slower children.

AtYourCervix Mon 08-Aug-11 08:48:34

Also - if british maths teaching is so crap why are pupils forced to learn things like algebra, trigonometry or other mysterious things involving formulae rather than 'real world maths' - things like understanding loans, interest and percentages?

Why not focus on the bits that people actually use and leave the more complicated bits to thiose who want to learn them later?

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Mon 08-Aug-11 08:50:02


Whatmeworry Mon 08-Aug-11 08:51:46

I've travelled all over the world, the UK is the one country I've been in which thinks its higher status to be crap at maths. Says it all....

Pippaandpolly Mon 08-Aug-11 08:52:53

Maths is already compulsory to the end of education as education is only compulsory to 16-if you want everyone to be taught Maths to 18 you're talking about a radical shake up involving making education (whether A levels or equivalent) compulsory to 18. There are lots of people who are far better off starting apprenticeships/working at 16 who need that time to learn skills rather than continue with academia. This is a much bigger question than how important Maths is.

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