Why Mathematics Education Needs Whole-System, Not Piecemeal Reform

Gillian Whitehouse and Newman Burdett

20 August 2013

As students throughout the country receive their GCSE results this week, we argue in this paper that proposals to reform mathematics GCSEs run the risk of disengaging weaker students and exacerbating failure rates.

Despite much good practice in mathematics education in England, there is a large tail of underachievement, and students at the top end of the ability range are not being sufficiently challenged.

Mathematics education is complex and the ability range is large. We need a national consensus to develop clear and flexible routes through mathematics education, so that every learner can progress and achieve their fullest potential. Looking at other countries may give some indications as to what may work well here.

Key Findings