The waves of change in English mathematics policy with Further Education

Diane Dalby, Centre for Research in Mathematics Education, University of Nottingham

The Further Education (FE) sector in England has been subject to frequent changes in mathematics policy over the last few decades and government policy levers, such as funding incentives, have sometimes led to unintended consequences. During this time, a series of different mathematics qualifications for FE students have been developed, declined and eventually replaced. The Nuffield-funded Mathematics in Further Education Colleges project highlights a level of predictability in these changes that warrants closer attention if repetitions of policy failure are to be avoided. This mixed-methods study provides an overview of the national issues through four linked strands focussing on the development of mathematics policy over time, approaches to implementation, students’ pathways and the teacher workforce. An analysis is discussed in this paper of the trajectories of different mathematics qualifications over time, using a theory of change model. Similar patterns of rise and decline emerge in overlapping waves, with critical opportunities for growth arising from synergy with vocational reforms, integration with other mathematics curricula, cohesion with the political climate or timely reinforcement from other inputs. The analysis highlights the challenges of developing more sustainable mathematics policies but also indicates some ways in which greater stability might be achieved.

About the speaker

Diane is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education, University of Nottingham. She previously worked in Further Education colleges in England for over 20 years, in various management and teaching roles, before commencing a full-time doctorate at the university and later progressing to her current role. Her doctoral study focused on the experiences of vocational students learning functional mathematics in Further Education colleges and Diane has since worked on several national and international mathematics research projects. Her research interests include the teaching of mathematics in post-16 education for disaffected and low-attaining students, the post-16 mathematics curriculum, the enactment of policy in Further Education and the positioning of mathematics within vocational education.

Venue: Room 0.16

Date: 19 June 2019

Time: 09:00 - 10:00