A report for the Conservative Party has suggested that students in England should study maths until the age of 18. The report author, TV presenter Carol Vorderman said, “Some children are never taught maths by a maths teacher,” which highlighted the need for reform in schools.
According to the report, change will give children the mathematical skills they need to utilize at work later in life. The current system has been said to be lacking in help for the students of today. Nearly half of 16 year olds do not even get a grade C in mathematics at GCSE level. Only 15% of pupils study the subject after that level.
In all other developed countries, nearly all students, if not all, study maths until the age of 18. The report was commissioned by Education Secretary Michael Gove and Prime Minister David Cameron in 2009, before they were in power.
Ms. Vordeman said that over 300,000 16 year olds finish education each year without understanding maths enough to deal with the demands of an ordinary life or job. Additionally, 24% of adults who were active in the economy were unable to deal with numbers effectively. Universities also complained about the mathematics skills of school-leavers.
Analysis of the report shows that 90% of students who do not achieve a level 4 standard in the Sats national curriculum tests at the age of 11 get below a C at their GCSE level. Ms. Vordeman recommended that the Sats for the subject be eliminated, due to the focus schools put on the tests rather than the subject itself.
The focus in teaching maths at GCSE level has been on advanced subjects such as trigonometry and algebra when not enough students can do the simple calculations such as figuring out a percentage. The report advocates teaching a broad range of levels up to age 18 to ensure that students leave with a good understanding.
Additionally, the report condemns primary school teachers, who are not prepared to teach the basics, and a shortage of teachers means that many who teach this subject are not qualified. Thus it calls for better training for teachers as well, to solve the problem.