Matt Walker, Suzanne Straw, Eleanor Bradley, Lorna Jones and Jennie Harland
01 May 2020
Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) and the Department for Education (DfE) commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to evaluate the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme (AMSP). The AMSP is a government-funded programme which started on 1 May 2018. It aims to increase the number of students participating in AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and Core Maths, and improve the teaching of these level 3 mathematics qualifications. The aim of the evaluation was to explore the effectiveness, outcomes and impacts of the AMSP, as well as any areas for development.
The study was undertaken between November 2018 and May 2020. It involved: a paper and online survey of senior mathematics teachers in 717 schools and colleges in England; 18 telephone interviews with senior mathematics teachers in a sample of schools and colleges; follow-up visits to 15 of the same schools and colleges; telephone interviews with eight teachers participating in on-demand professional development (ODPD); and a small-scale consultation of key stakeholders.
- Mathematics teachers responding to the survey reported their schools and colleges had engaged in a range of AMSP activities. The most frequently accessed included enrichment for students aged 16-19, the use of teaching resources for AS/A level Further Mathematics, and professional development for AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics.
- Survey and case-study respondents rated the quality of AMSP provision very highly, with 90 per cent or more of survey respondents rating activities related to ‘student support and tuition’ and ‘teacher professional development’ as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
- Mathematics teachers reported experiencing a range of benefits from the teacher professional development they had undertaken. These included: increased subject knowledge and confidence in teaching; the development of new teaching approaches; and increased knowledge of the Level 3 mathematics curriculum specifications and assessment regimes.
- Similarly, students reported a range of benefits from their involvement in AMSP activities, including: increased engagement, enjoyment and enthusiasm in mathematics lessons; increased knowledge and understanding of mathematics topics (for example mechanics); and improved study and independent learning skills and exam technique.
- The findings demonstrate the high regard that teachers who were accessing AMSP provision had for the programme. However, the evaluation also revealed that some schools and colleges found it difficult to release teachers and students to take part in learning activities. In addition, while many school/college Mathematics Departments appeared keen to offer Core Maths, senior school and college leaders were reported to be concerned about how it would be funded, timetabled and staffed. This is a challenge for the AMSP, as increasing participation in Core Maths is one of its goals.