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GCSE and A-level reforms are destroying post-16 maths education. Well done Tories.

(9 Posts)
noblegiraffe Sun 07-May-17 12:28:48

I've posted on threads before about how I thought that the new GCSE would put students off studying A-level Maths and Further Maths and it appears that those concerns are being realised in schools across the country.

The Mathematical Association put out a survey for schools to complete about A-level Maths and Further Maths take-up a couple of days ago and although they are waiting for more responses before they publish, they are tweeting comments as they come in.

mobile.twitter.com/mathematical_a?lang=en

The new GCSE where students don't know what grade they're aiming for, where bright students are getting low marks in mocks and where confidence has been knocked in comparison to other subjects where they are getting A*s and As have contributed to a fall in numbers of students wanting to study A-level. The government making A-level linear and getting rid of AS exams as 50% of A-level final marks (a move that they were strongly advised against by many in education, including Cambridge Uni) meaning that many schools no longer offer AS and have switched to students only taking 3 subjects have led to a decrease in take-up of Further Maths A-level, with some schools being forced to scrap it completely.

The country desperately needs more student with post-16 maths qualifications. Universities who run maths-based courses which need a strong background in maths are going to be hit by the reduction in students taking further maths.

God knows how this will pan out, but the government will have to step in and do something, and they can't say that they weren't warned.

lottysmum Sun 07-May-17 14:47:21

I'm not in education but my understanding is that children were warned against taking up Maths on the old system unless they gained an A - A* because there was a BIG gap between GCSE and A level in this subject... I thought one of the reasons that the new Maths GCSE had been reviewed was to bring the levels a little closer ? I dare say that Maths and English GCSE results will prove interesting this year ...so there maybe a BLIP in students considering A Levels but will this not be the case for all subjects in 2018 when they all change over to the 1-9 grades...
I spoke to a friend whose son was struggling with AS Maths this year and he has ended up getting a tutor in - whilst his son was good at Maths he had said the step up from GCSE was too big and it will be MATHS that he will drop for A level in favour of the other 3 subjects ....
I personally think that its good to loose the AS levels - give the children a year out from sitting exams - give them time to focus on 3 subjects but I guess its difficult for the kids who may not have defined subjects - perhaps IB should be considered in more schools - My DD is yr 10 and at the moment I think we will go IB at sixth form because she is an all rounder ...

jeanne16 Sun 07-May-17 19:46:52

I am a secondary school Maths teacher and we are concerned about the information we have received for the new Maths A level. It seems significantly harder than the current modular course. The specimen paper we have been sent seems to have very few questions at the current level tested in C1, S1 etc, which currently helps the less able pupils improve their overall grade. Most schools are very worried about it.

BackforGood Sun 07-May-17 19:51:13

I was going to say the same as Lottysmum
I have 1 dc who 'walked' through her GCSE without lifting a finger, went to do A-level, and was totally knocked sideways by it and has failed miserably, the jump was so enormous. My younger dc(currently in Yr10) is already covering a lot more stuff than dd1 did, for her GCSE, so is of the opinion that she would be much better equipped to go on to A-level should she choose to which is highly unlikely.

noblegiraffe Sun 07-May-17 20:17:24

there maybe a BLIP in students considering A Levels

The first year of the new GCSE and the associated uncertainty is only part of the problem. The second part of the problem is that a lot of schools are now only offering 3 A-levels, and not putting students in for AS because it won't count for A-level and will be expensive. Your friend's DS who is going to be able to drop maths at AS is in a rare situation.

What's going to happen from now on is that students will have to choose 3 A-levels in the knowledge that they will have to see them all through for the full 2 years, no matter how hard they find them and no matter how badly they are doing after the first year. With maths being seen as difficult, students who are not convinced of their ability to make the jump to A-level will be more likely to avoid maths as they won't have the safety net of being able to drop it. This will most likely disproportionally affect girls who are more likely to lack confidence and have other subjects that they can take instead.

It is too early to say whether the new GCSE is better preparation for A-level because it's a new A-level too, and the specs have only just been signed off (first teaching September, barely any time to get familiar with them AGAIN sigh).

Evalina Tue 09-May-17 19:03:24

I agree - my DD would never have chosen to do A Level Physics, if she had to commit to the full 2 year course. It was always her plan to drop it after AS, but she ended up taking it to A2 and now still studies physics modules at university.

She also chose to do Further Maths to AS level only as an extra, which really helped her with Maths and Physics A2. I am glad she got through A levels before this change, as I think she would have chosen differently under this new format.

PossumInAPearTree Tue 09-May-17 19:15:05

I would guess that English are having the same problem if dds school are anything to go by. An awful lot of kids got 2 or 3 in the mocks, this is kids in the top set. Dd had been thinking about doing English a level and has now changed her mind because she is worried she might not pass the gcse!

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 09-May-17 20:35:38

I think there will be a big impact on further maths take up. So many won't take it as part of their 3 in case it's too hard and because it's specialising too much, but they won't take it as a fourth either now if they feel that they are committing to two years rather than a try it and see for a year.

ragged Tue 09-May-17 20:38:48

I suppose this will ease the math teacher recruitment crisis (grim attempt @ humour)

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