GCSE Mathematics - new specifications from 2010
New specifications for GCSE Mathematics are being introduced for first teaching in 2010.
GCSE Mathematics is a fundamentally important qualification. For many learners, it is the highest-level mathematics qualfication for which they will study. It is deeply regrettable that so many learners do not proceed any further, but the reality of the situation, at least for the present, is that this is so. Therefore it is extremely important that the qualification should be fully fit for purpose. The Society works closely with the rest of the mathematics community to try to ensure this. The Society has, of course, a special interest in the position of statistics within GCSE Mathematics.
A key recommendation in the Report of the Post-14 Mathematics Inquiry (often referred to as the Smith Report as its author was Professor Adrian Smith) was that GCSE Mathematics should be developed as a double-subject award. This recommendation led to a very great deal of debate and discussion over several years. The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) issued an important Briefing Note in February 2009. It had previously issued a Press Release in December 2008 welcoming news that piloting of a double-subject version of GCSE Mathematics was to start; this was supported by a separate Press Release issued by the Society. Further very intense negotiations between the mathematics community, QCDA (formerly QCA) and Ofqual followed.
In the meantime, new criteria for single-subject GCSE Mathematics were being developed, to take effect in 2010. In March 2009, the Society commented formally on these by a letter from the President to the Chair of Ofqual. While there was general support for parts of the thrust of the new criteria, the Society was concerned that many aspects of the proposals for statistics had not been properly thought out. The letter went into these matters in a constructive way. The Society is deeply disappointed that it appears that no notice whatever was taken of its letter. The published criteria are identical with those on which the Society had commented.
Eventually arrangements for a pilot of the double-subject version were agreed. This version has become known as the "linked pair". Details are available on the QCDA website. On 22 July 2010, QCDA confirmed that Ministers had agreed that the pilot would go ahead as planned.