National Curriculum Consultation, KS 1-3

National Curriculum Consultation, KS 1-3, announced today. Closing date: Tuesday 16 April 2013

Published for information only:

From other news:

The Education Secretary has dropped proposals to replace existing exams with new English Baccalaureate Certificates as part of a compromise deal between the Coalition parties, it emerged.

A move to axe competition between exam boards – forcing each body to bid for a “franchise” to run one subject – has also been abandoned amid fears it will fall foul of EU procurement laws.

Curriculum, exam and accountability reform: Michael Gove’s Oral Statement in the Parliament.

Michael Gove: "The Progressive Betrayal"

Michael Gove’s speech, “The Progressive Betrayal”  to the Social Market Foundation – 5th February 2013. Some random quotes related to mathematics:

This approach […]  was called progressive because it moved away from a set hierarchy of knowledge – literary canons, mathematical proofs, scientific laws, musical exercises and artistic traditions towards a new emphasis on “learning to learn”.

The EBacc squeezed out creativity, some claimed. So does that mean scientists from Rutherford to Dawkins are arid and uncreative mechanics? Mathematicians from Pythagoras to Turing are enemies of creativity?

[…] unless you have knowledge – historical, cultural, scientific, mathematic[al] – all you will find on Google is babble.

So our new curriculum affirms – at every point – the critical importance of knowledge acquisition. […] There is new and detailed content on the mathematical processes every child should master – including early memorisation of tables, written methods of long division and calculations with fractions – which was either absent or obscure before.

More on A Level reform

From THE:

[T]he group of 24 large research-intensive universities will seek to establish an advisory body on 10 A-level subjects to help maintain standards.

The working group on the new standards body will be chaired by Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick, and will focus on A levels in maths, the sciences, languages, geography, history and Classics.

Read the full article.

A major A-level overhaul

From The Telegraph, by  :

[…] on Wednesday Mr Gove will set out a further reform of the qualification – effectively turning the clock back to the 90s before exams were overhauled by Labour.

[…] under the new plan:

• AS-levels will become a standalone qualification with results no longer counting towards final A-level marks;

• Pupils will be able to take new-style AS-levels over one or two years, with qualifications covering exactly half the content of the full version;

• Full A-levels will be completely separate from AS and turned into “linear” qualifications, with all exams sat at the end of the two-year course.

[…] The move is likely to prove controversial among some universities because it will stop them using AS marks to award provisional places on degree courses.

[…] the Russell Group […] would form a new academic board to advise Ofqual on the content of A-levels.

Read the full article.

Children to be marked up for using long division in maths

By   in The Telegraph:

Long division and multiplication will make a return to maths exams as part of a Government drive to boost standards in primary schools, it will be announced today.

Pupils aged 11 will be given extra marks for employing traditional methods of calculation in end-of-year Sats tests, it emerged.

Children who get the wrong answer but attempt sums using long and short multiplication or adding and subtracting in columns will be rewarded with additional points.

Ministers insisted the changes – being introduced from 2016 – were intended to stop pupils using “clumsy, confusing and time-consuming” methods of working out. […]

Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, will outline the plans in a speech to the North of England Education Conference in Sheffield on Thursday.

Speaking before the address, she said: “Chunking and gridding are tortured techniques but they have become the norm in recent years. Children just end up repeatedly adding or subtracting numbers, and batches of numbers.

“They may give the right answer but they are not quick, efficient methods, nor are they methods children can build on, and apply to more complicated problems.

“Column methods of addition and subtraction, short and long multiplication and division are far simpler, far quicker, far more effective and allow children to understand properly the calculation and therefore move on to more advanced problems.”

Who wrote the KS 1-2 mathematics curriculum?

Adapted from ‘s article in The Guardian:

The coalition’s curriculum review, which began in January 2011 and in June 2012 produced draft proposals for English, maths and science in primary schools – the secondary version has yet to appear – has been dogged by

allegations of secrecy. […]

When it comes to the draft primary maths curriculum, most close observers of the review say that much of the writing was done by the late Richard Dunne […]

Calculators banned in primary school maths exams

By  in  The Telegraph:

Calculators are to be banned in primary school maths exams as part of a Government drive to boost standards of mental arithmetic, it was announced today.

Pupils will be required to complete sums using pen and paper amid fears under-11s in England are already more reliant on electronic devices than peers in most other countries.
The change – being introduced from 2014 – coincides with the publication of a draft primary school curriculum that recommends delaying the use of calculators as part of maths lessons.
Currently, children are expected to use them at the age of seven, but this is likely to be put back to nine or 10 under the Coalition’s reforms.
Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, said that an over-reliance on calculators meant pupils were failed to get the

rigorous grounding in mental and written arithmetic that they needed to progress onto secondary education.
Pupils should not use the devices until they know their times tables off by heart and understand the methods used to add, subtract, multiply and divide, she said.

Read full article

Universities and A-levels

In the two weeks since I posted my election statement blog, A-level reform has featured in the news more than once. The TES article below shows that how universities should be involved with A-levels, already unclear, is becoming contentious.

Some structure is required to allow HE mathematics to play a part in the review of A-level. To me this is part of a wider problem of curriculum design and maintenance which we currently have in England. I am not an expert on educational systems worldwide, but I believe that many countries have a standing committee for the development and review of the school curriculum. I believe that it would be valuable to have some such structure in England, and that the LMS, working with others, should be able to contribute to the design of a body with the working title ‘Standing Committee for Mathematics’. Continue reading

Tony Gardiner: A mathematician's view of the current education scene in the UK

The current turmoil facing mathematics within the UK educational scene – from primary to postgraduate – is unprecedented in my experience. At the same time, the formal institutions and agencies on which we all depend have never been weaker. At undergraduate level the issues are mostly UK-wide; but they are being interpreted and tackled independently by individual universities, and by different groupings (Russell Group, University Alliance, 1994, Million+). The school-level agenda is complicated by the fact that the UK has four different education systems, one of which is far bigger, and more turbulent, than the other three. In England, the last three administrations (from 1979) have adopted policies that replace traditional collegiality with competition and ‘market forces’: they may speak the language of devolution; but implementation often concentrates effective control at the centre. Changes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are often less visible to most of us – with Scotland having its own strong traditions, while Wales and Northern Ireland are more influenced by what happens in England.

Continue reading