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Fall in numbers taking A-level maths

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by mikeedanz, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. mikeedanz

    mikeedanz New commenter

    According to Ofqual, 2019 A level maths entries are down 5% this year while Further maths numbers are down around 10%. The MEI National Survey 2016 -17 and 2017-18 on post-16 uptake also makes for interesting reading.

    So, although it's too early to say if this trend will continue, some might say the pointless and ill-thought through GCSE and A-level reforms, driven by Gove's ego at time when numbers taking A-level maths were at an all-time high, haven't helped matters. Not that Michael stuck around in Education long enough to accept any responsibility for his actions of course!

    Curriculum 2000 anyone?


  2. maths_mikey

    maths_mikey New commenter

    A very worrying trend. Able children coming out of exams in tears because they are so hard. Ridiculously low grade boundaries so the get the grade 7 or better but by then it's too late. The damage has been done.
  3. icosahedron

    icosahedron New commenter

    As with most measures careful thought is required before coming to conclusions. The Edexcel maths team tweeted about this last week and pointed out that comparing numbers this year to previous years isn't comparing like with like. The tweet basically said that due to aggregation rules the numbers used to be inflated by a few thousand, so the conclusion is that students may not have been lost. I don't know the details of how the aggregation works but this is should be enough to stop the knee jerk reactions.

    The drop in AS numbers also has nothing to do with students' decisions on whether to take maths A levels, this is due to the decision to measure school's performance by comparing AS entries to A level entries, result: schools game the system by not entering students for AS.

    A level maths is a requirement in so many university courses that numbers are very unlikely to drop.
  4. mikeedanz

    mikeedanz New commenter

    I think the aggregation rules may be due to Further maths students who sat the standard A-level in Y12 resitting certain modules again in Y13 alongside FM under the legacy system. Of course, that's still possible now, although given the whole qualification has to be resat it's unlikely quite so many will choose to try and bump up their original grade.
    Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any convenient explanation for the drop in the numbers entered for Further Maths at A-level. Certainly the increased demands at GCSE aren't helping numbers going on to do maths post 16.

    My post wasn't intended to refer to sharp decline in AS numbers because it's pretty clear most schools are abandoning AS levels altogether. I wonder if the AS might be consigned to history in the not too distant future?

    Now that Russell Group universities have scrapped their list of preferred A-levels I wonder if this might create the perfect storm that will lead to a decline in numbers similar to what we saw back in 2000, albeit under slightly different circumstances. Again, it's too early to say but Gove's reforms have plenty to answer for in all this.
  5. Elfrune

    Elfrune New commenter

    I do not know if we are unusual or this is relevant, but our numbers doing A level have dropped from about 60 (3 classes of 20) to 20 (2 classes of 10) over the last two years. Comprehensive school in a rare selective county. We have dropped further A level maths as we can no longer staff it (shortage of qualified maths teachers) - another shame as I think physics, maths and engineering at degree level sometimes require/prefer to see further A level maths?

    We have plenty of students attaining grades 6, 7 and 8 leaving the exam room considering themselves failures at maths and write off doing it at A level 'because it is too hard' irrespective of our telling them how fantastic they are at our subject. We have students considering themselves failures because they ran out of time - they could not finish the recent GCSE exam. I consider myself as a failure as I can not teach mechanics at A level (never taught it before - we did decision, stats and pure/core) - and need to do a lot of homework myself to upskill. I do not like how the recent GCSE changes seem to have changed our student's perspectives on how they are doing at maths, but believe this is not limited to one subject. Just my thoughts and possibly come across as overly-negative? Apologies if they do.
  6. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    The recent "too hard" A level maths exams from Edexcel aren't going to help the situation.

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