Press release

Launch of new high-quality post-16 maths qualifications

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

School Reform Minister Nick Gibb announces 6 new core maths qualifications to encourage more pupils to study maths post-16.

Pupil using a calculator

New high-quality maths qualifications, which teach pupils how to use and apply maths in real situations, are designed to encourage thousands more pupils to continue studying maths beyond age 16, School Reform Minister Nick Gibb announced today (5 December 2014).

As part of the government’s commitment to raising standards in the subject, 6 new core maths qualifications will be included in school and college performance tables from 2017 and as part of the TechBacc (Technical Baccalaureate) measure from 2016.

The government has outlined the ambition that, by 2020, the great majority of young people will continue to study maths to age 18. Core maths offers a way for students who achieve at least a C in GCSE maths to continue to study the subject, allowing them to maintain and develop their mathematics even if they do not wish to pursue a full A level.

Students who reach the end of secondary school without achieving a grade C in GCSE maths now have to continue to work towards the qualification within their post-16 education.

School Reform Minister Nick Gibb said:

Strong maths skills are an essential part of our plan for education and are also vitally important to our economy.

England has been falling behind other countries’ maths performance, which is why we have launched a new maths curriculum to match the best in the world and are introducing rigorous new GCSE and A level maths qualifications.

Only a fifth of pupils in England continue to study maths at any level after achieving a GCSE - the lowest of 24 developed countries.

These new core maths qualifications will help address a 16 to 18 ‘maths gap’ whereby students who achieve a good maths grade at GCSE currently drop the subject and start to lose their confidence and skills.

Thanks to these new high-quality courses more pupils will be able to continue their study of maths, ensuring more young people leave education properly prepared for the demands of university, work and life in modern Britain.

The new courses will allow pupils to build on their maths skills using more advanced methods and techniques. They have been developed with the support of employers, universities and professional bodies to ensure they offer pupils the relevant knowledge and skills to progress to further study and the world of work.

Pupils will learn how to apply maths to analyse situations, giving them the confidence they need to tackle problems in their adult lives. Examples of topics to be covered include using different data sources to determine changes to average house prices over the course of a year and how to calculate the value of a mortgage loan in any given future year.

Students will also develop a more advanced understanding of statistics, financial maths and modelling - for example, understanding investments, analysing trends in population growth or calculating new ways to improve a process. There will also be an emphasis on using maths in business settings, with pupils asked, for example, to calculate costs, estimate demand and set a selling price for products in order to maximise profits.

Raising the overall standard of maths skills in England is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan. The government is prioritising an overhaul of maths education because it commands the highest earnings, provides the best protection against unemployment and opens doors to dozens of careers.

Notes to editors

  1. Six qualifications submitted by awarding organisations have been accredited by independent exam regulator Ofqual and will be counted as core maths qualifications in a level 3 maths measure in 16 to 19 performance tables from 2017.
  2. The following qualifications will be counted as core maths qualifications:
    • City & Guilds - level 3 certificate in using and applying mathematics
    • OCR - level 3 certificates in quantitative problem solving and quantitative reasoning
    • Pearson Edexcel - level 3 certificate in mathematics in context
    • AQA - level 3 certificate in mathematical studies
    • WJEC Eduqas - level 3 certificate in mathematics for work and life
  3. An expert panel has reviewed the qualifications to ensure they meet the high standards in content for core maths set out by DfE.
  4. Students successfully completing core maths along with at least one tech level qualification and the extended project will be recognised as having achieved the TechBacc measure from 2016. It was introduced for courses starting in September 2014, and will first be reported in the 16 to 19 performance tables from 2016.
  5. The TechBacc is a new 16 to 19 school and college performance measure, introduced to recognise excellence in the provision of technical education. It is aimed at ambitious, talented students who want to pursue a technical career and is part of a wider drive to improve the quality of vocational education in England.

DfE enquiries

Published 5 December 2014