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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Call for split maths GCSEs
students in exam room
People have been finding the exam tough going

A government inquiry is considering calls to split GCSE maths in two - to halt the decline of the subject.

Under proposals put forward by the Maths Association, the GSCE would be split into two levels.

One would be for teenagers who have trouble with algebra or geometry.

They would be able to do a "use of mathematics course" which would teach them, for example, how to manage money and perhaps handle data or use graphs.

The harder elements of the current GCSE would be put into an optional maths course and pupils who did both would get two grades instead of one, as already happens with double science and English.

The Maths Association (MA) put forward the ideas to an inquiry led by Professor Adrian Smith, principal of Queen Mary College, University of London.

The MA council chairman Bill Richardson said: "It does appear that he has taken seriously a number of the views expressed by the Mathematical Association.

"He certainly appears to have been in listening mode."

The organisation says something must be done to spark pupils' interest in maths and to reverse the growing unpopularity of the subject.

Denial

Earlier this week it was announced that exam regulators had agreed to changes to the maths A-level to make it more "manageable" for pupils.

The exam watchdog the QCA denied it was making the exam easier.

There has been a big fall (about 20%) in the number of pupils taking A-level maths in the past two years.

Asked about plans for the maths GCSE, a spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "We asked Professor Smith to look at how we can improve post-14 maths study.

"He will report shortly and we look forward to his recommendations but anything before then is, of course, just speculation."


SEE ALSO:
Maths A-level revival plan approved
06 Aug 03  |  Education
Shortage of good maths teachers
09 Jan 03  |  Education
AS-level maths syllabus revised
11 Oct 02  |  Education
Pupils 'failed' by maths exam
05 Apr 02  |  Education


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