The De Morgan Journal: change of the name

By a decision of the LMS Education Committee, The De Morgan Journal changes its name to The De Morgan Gazette (ISSN 2053-1451).

The last paper of the old Journal and the first paper of the new Gazette are two parts of Tony Gardiner’s analysis of changes in Mathematics GCSE:

Universities urged to sponsor free schools specialising in maths

From The Guardian

Universities are being urged by the government to sponsor new free schools specialising in mathematics, in a plan supported by the Office for Fair Access (Offa) to encourage talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds to study maths at degree level.

As an incentive to open the new schools, universities will be allowed to fund them using budgets otherwise reserved for improving access to higher education for under-represented and disadvantaged groups.

According to letters from education minister Elizabeth Truss to the heads of higher education maths departments in England, universities will be able to sponsor the new free schools through a fast-track, simplified procedure, and without the competitive application process normally required of those bidding to open free schools.

“This country has some brilliant university maths departments and world famous mathematicians,” Truss wrote.

“But there is no denying there is a big jump between studying maths in schools and colleges – even for those students taking A-level further maths – and what those young people go on to study at university.”

If the scheme takes off, it could create a network of selective free schools teaching 16-19-year-olds under the aegis of their local universities, providing academic support and strong links between higher education and local populations.

Les Ebdon, director of Offa, said: “I’d be happy to see more university-led maths free schools because of the role they can play in helping able students from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education.

“It is for individual universities and colleges to decide whether or not this is something they want to do, but Offa is supportive of anything that is targeted at under-represented groups and helps them to fulfil their potential.”

Seb Schmoller: Second report from Keith Devlin’s and Coursera’s Introduction to Mathematical Thinking MOOC

Seb Schmoller updated and expanded his previous Report from Keith Devlin’s and Coursera’s “Introduction to Mathematical Thinking” MOOC.

Seb Schmoller: Second report from Keith Devlin’s and Coursera’s Introduction to Mathematical Thinking MOOC

About a month ago I finished Keith Devlin’s 10 week introduction to mathematical thinking course. This report supplements the one I published in April, which I’d based on my experience and observations during the first six weeks of the course.

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GCSE reform announcement

From the official announcement:

In February, the Secretary of State announced plans for the comprehensive reform of GCSEs, so that young people have access to qualifications which match and exceed those of the highest performing jurisdictions.

The Department is now seeking views on proposed subject content and assessment objectives for new GCSEs. Proposed subject content for reformed GCSEs in English language, English literature, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, combined science (double award), history, geography, modern languages and ancient languages, as well as the Reformed GCSE Subject Content Consultation document are available here on the Department’s website. The consultation will run from 11 June until 22 August. We would very much welcome your views.

In parallel with this consultation Ofqual are consulting on the revised regulatory requirements for the reformed GCSEs. The Ofqual consultation will be available here.

Rutherford Schools Physics Project

A new five-year project aimed at developing the skills of sixth-form physicists has been awarded a £7 million grant by the Department for Education.

The Rutherford Schools Physics Project, led by Cambridge University Professor of Theoretical Physics Mark Warner, and Cavendish Laboratory Outreach Officer Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright, will work collaboratively with teachers, schools and other partner universities to deliver extension materials, on-line learning, workshops for students and support for physics teachers.[...]

The project will also work closely with its two sister initiatives, the Cambridge Mathematics Education Project, led by Professor Martin Hyland and also supported by the DfE, and “i-want-to-study-engineering.org”, led by Professor Richard Prager and supported by the Underwood Trust.

Since Archimedes, mathematics and physics have been inseparable, and the interdependence continues into the 21st century — Professor Mark Warner

Rating of mathematics in universities of the world

  1. University of Cambridge
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  3. Harvard University
  4. University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  5. University of Oxford
  6. Princeton University
  7. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  8. Stanford University
  9. (=10) ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
  10. (=9) National University of Singapore (NUS)

British universities in the top 50:

1. Cambridge
5. Oxford
12. Imperial
23. Warwick
38. Bristol
46-49: Manchester (shared with Nanyang Technological, Auckland and Queensland)