Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME)

Post-16 mathematics: Core Maths

What's the issue?

Every year, around 250,000 young people obtain at least a GCSE grade C in mathematics but do not chose to study the subject at AS/ A level. The new Core Maths suite of qualifications is aimed at these students.

ACME was closely involved in the shifts necessary for these qualifications to come into place, having long called for such a qualification as an alternative to AS/ A level study in mathematics and further mathematics. ACME worked closely with a range of stakeholders in the mathematics community and beyond to argue that a new post-16 qualification should sit within a clear, simple suite of distinctive and well-understood qualifications.

Increasing the numbers of students studying mathematics beyond GCSE by anything like 250,000 requires a coherent strategy and many years of investment. Providing insight into the way this can be achieved has been ACME's goal.

The qualifications are being taken by around 180 Early Adopter Schools and were made available to all schools and colleges from September 2015. The Core Maths Support Programme (funded by the Department for Education until September 2016) is working to ensure that the qualifications are a success.

In order for the qualifications to succeed, the importance of the qualifications needs to be made clear to higher education and employers. ACME continues to support those involved in implementing this policy, which includes providing strategic advice and acting as a knowledge broker for those who seek to promote and develop Core Maths qualifications. ACME advises that an implementation plan and roadmap is developed to ensure the success of the qualifications.



July 2010: ACME published Post-16 in 2016 calling for more options for students to continue their mathematical education up to 18.

June 2011: ACME published Mathematical Needs: Mathematics in the workplace and in Higher Education estimating that 330,000 entrants to higher education would benefit from recent experience of studying mathematics, but that fewer than 125,000 have this.

February 2012: ACME published Bridging the Mathematics Gap: Have Your Say asking for the mathematical community's advice on the development of a course for students who did not currently take A-level mathematics but needed to continue with mathematics.

December 2012: ACME published Post-16 mathematics: increasing provision and participation and Post-16 mathematics: planning for success. The first report outlined four key strategies for increasing the number of young people studying mathematics up to the age of 18, including the introduction of a new post-16 mathematics qualification. The second report outlined the steps that needed to be taken to make this work.

Spring/ Summer 2013: ACME was asked by the Department for Education to convene an expert panel on post-16 Core Maths qualifications. The remit of the panel was to draft clear guidelines to inform the development of a new Level 3 mathematics qualification, to be used by the Department for Education to decide which qualifications should be counted as 'Core Maths'. The expert panel met between July and September 2013.

October 2013: The expert panel submitted their report to the Department for Education.

January 2014: The Department for Education published a policy statement on the introduction of post-16 Core Maths qualifications in response to the expert panel report. In an informal response, ACME welcomed the introduction of Core Maths and in principle supported the breadth of measures outlined by the Department for Education.

February 2014: ACME responded to the Department for Education i nformal consultation on the characteristics of Core Maths.

Autumn 2014: The Department for Education announced funding for schools and colleges to become early adopters of Core Maths qualifications.

December 2014: Six new Core Maths qualifications were accredited by Ofqual.

December 2014: ACME published a Maths Snapshot Maths for all to 18 outlining that all young people should study maths up to 18.

September 2014-2016: The Core Maths Support Programme is supporting schools and colleges in offering Core Maths from September 2015 onwards.

September 2015: Core Maths qualifications available.


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