Dr Mathieson joins a podcast by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to offer an overview of the national picture on the subject of Core Maths based on research findings from the project The Early Take-up of Core Maths: successes and challenges.
There is discussion between Dr Mathieson and Jack Ndebu, a maths teacher at Rainford High School, about the difference between Core Maths and traditional A-Level maths. Core Maths applies a mathematical perspective on current events and problems. Dr Mathieson explains that the subject is less abstract than traditional A-Level maths and the ‘real world’ content of Core Maths tends to require teachers using creative approaches to teach their students the syllabus. Jack Ndebu corroborates this finding with his personal experience of teaching the post-16 qualification.
Students who have taken Core Maths generally find the course useful due to the clear link to the ‘real world’ as the mathematical skills they learn can be applied to everyday life. “The level of engagement with Core Maths is something we noted really strongly throughout the project” said Dr Mathieson.
Dr Mathieson and Jack Ndebu agree that Core Maths is more accessible to a wider audience than traditional A-Level maths, as it is designed for students with grade 4 or above at GCSE level. However, schools across the country are implementing the subject in different ways, with some institutions even increasing the GCSE grade requirement to be able to study Core Maths. The way in which the subject is implemented is driven by the individual school’s aims and targets for offering the course.
The podcast concludes with discussion on how schools and teachers can make Core Maths successful. Dr Mathieson explains that though the course has received many positive responses from students and teachers, uptake has been limited. There are several challenges that the qualification still faces, a key hurdle being linked to a lack of direct funding which in turn can undermine the perceived value of the subject.