Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME)

ACME Welcomes Final Report of Primary Curriculum Review

30 April 2009

The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) welcomes the final report of the Rose Review of the Primary Curriculum, especially the new Programme of Study for the 'Mathematical Understanding' area of learning, which ACME has worked on closely with the Review team and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).

Commenting on the report, Chair of ACME Professor Dame Julia Higgins FRS said:

"We are keen to ensure coherence between mathematics and the 5 other areas of learning in order to encourage cross-curricular study at primary level, but we particularly want to ensure that 'Mathematical Understanding' and 'Scientific and Technological Understanding' align with each other."

ACME looks forward to the formal consultation and as part of this we will be considering whether it might be possible to slim down any further the 'Mathematical Understanding' Programme of Study and how teachers should be supported in delivering the new curriculum.

The term 'numeracy' is used freely in the report and at times interchangeably with mathematics. The mathematics community believe that 'numeracy' is a part of, but not the same as mathematics.

Commenting on the issue of numeracy, Dame Julia said:

"We are currently working with the mathematics community on a satisfactory definition of the term 'numeracy' across 5-19 mathematic education, not just in the primary phase which this review has covered, and we hope to have this ready to share with others by the end of the consultation period."

Recommendation 8(i) specifically asks for 'numeracy' to be part of the new core. However, ACME hopes that schools will recognise the importance of ensuring that pupils receive a broad and balanced mathematics curriculum that goes beyond simply addressing the basic arithmetical and geometrical needs of their pupils. Otherwise, there is a risk it could lead to uninspiring learning experiences for primary pupils, leaving them unprepared for the mathematics they will study at KS3.

ACME is also looking forward to the recommendations of the Expert Group on Assessment, which has been the subject of separate review to that undertaken by Sir Jim Rose on the primary curriculum. Recommendation 8(iii) of Sir Jim's report asks the Expert Group to give consideration to how numeracy should be assessed. Primary schools should continue to be held accountable for the attainment of their pupils in mathematics but ACME believes that the learning of primary mathematics will be improved if schools and their teachers are empowered to use a range of assessment tools and techniques for tracking and monitoring pupils' progress and where tests are used formatively.

Dame Julia added:

"Reviewing the primary curriculum in isolation from the review of assessment will prove challenging - both issues are interlinked. We believe that teachers should have a much greater role in assessing pupil progress, and there should be a move away from the targets and league table focus that currently surrounds assessment at Key Stage 1 and 2"



1. The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) is an independent committee, based at the Royal Society and operating under its auspices, which acts as a single voice for the mathematical community on mathematics education issues, seeking to improve the quality of such education in schools and colleges. It advises Government on issues such as the curriculum, assessment and the supply and training of mathematics teachers. ACME was established by the Joint Mathematical Council of the UK and the Royal Society, with the explicit support of all major mathematics organisations, and is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The current chair is Professor Dame Julia Higgins FRS FREng.

2. The Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum led by Sir Jim Rose reported on its recommendations for changes to the Primary National Curriculum on 30 April 2009:

3. ACME's response to the Interim Report of the Rose Review can be found here and ACME's discussion paper from October 2008 on issues in primary mathematics can be found here.

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