Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME)

ACME and GCSE Mathematics 2013/14

ACME's engagement in the GCSE Mathematics reform process 2013/2014.

June 2013: GCSE Mathematics: An overview of ACME's advice

ACME developed a briefing paper drawing together its advice and expertise on GCSE Mathematics from previous years and published this in June 2013.

The Committee outlined some of the aims for key stage 4 mathematics:

  • Learning in key stage 4 should build on the range of mathematics in key stages 1-3 of the National Curriculum, developing fluency in skills and techniques, improving mathematical reasoning and supporting the development of transferable problem solving skills.
  • Throughout key stage 4, students should use and enjoy mathematics which they recognise as relevant and empowering, and should make significant progress in both competence and confidence, so that they are well-equipped to continue learning mathematics post-16.
  • Assessment as 16 should recognise mathematics knowledge, skills and understanding of the range of young people, and should lead to a small range of recognised and valued mathematics pathways in post-16 education, employment or training.

Summer 2013: Correspondence between Prof. Steve Sparks and Elizabeth Truss

The Chair of ACME, Steve Sparks, wrote a   letter to Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare on 6 June 2013, which included the June briefing paper on GCSE, as well as a  discussion paper on a new qualification for those students who find it difficult to achieve Grade C at GCSE or equivalent. A  response was received from Elizabeth Truss on 12 July 2013.

August 2013: ACME's response to the Department for Education and Ofqual's consultations on GCSE reform

  • ACME  responded in some detail to the Department for Education and Ofqual consultations on GCSE reform and submitted this response in August 2013. ACME details its position on tiering in this consultation response.

On tiering, the Committee advised:

GCSE Mathematics should be tiered, but there should be no overlap between the tiers, thus ensuring a single route to any grade.

ACME proposes that two tiers are assessed through three papers. All students would take two papers (lower and middle; middle and upper); 'threshold' performance on the first paper would be needed for access to a grade obtainable from the second paper.

November 2013: Response to Department for Education and Ofqual statements on GCSE Mathematics

ACME made a statement on GCSE Mathematics reforms on 1 November.

Professor Stephen Sparks, Chair of ACME, said:

GCSE qualifications should allow students to develop a deeper understanding of mathematics. Higher grades in mathematics shouldn't be awarded solely for covering extra content, but instead should be awarded to those who show greater understanding and skills in solving unfamiliar problems or applying mathematical reasoning in context.

Students should be able to use and enjoy mathematics which is relevant to their lives and which will allow them to be well-equipped either to continue learning mathematics post-16 or to move into the world of work.

Winter 2013/14: Correspondence between Prof. Steve Sparks and Glenys Stacey, Ofqual

See the letter from Steve Sparks to Glenys Stacey, Chief Regulator, Ofqual  sent on the 9 December 2013, which raised some concerns about the size of the new GCSE Mathematics and highlighted the need to ensure that the Department for Education and Ofqual made clear to pupils, schools and colleges, as well as parents and employers, that this was a new, larger and distinct qualification. Concerns were also highlighted again about issues with an overlapping tiering model.  A response was received dated 28 January.


January 2014: ACME's response to Ofqual's GCSE Technical Consultation

ACME submitted a  response on 31 January to Ofqual in response to the Ofqual GCSE Technical Consultation (this response used extracts from previous ACME work) and once again questioned the use of an overlapping tiers model.

February 2014: ACME's response to the Department for Education Key stage 4 mathematics consultation

In response to the National Curriculum reform (England): key stage 4 mathematics consultation, ACME submitted a  response to the Department for Education (in the form of a letter) submitted on 3 February.

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