Of ministers and maths education #acme2012


Here’s a post to coincide with Nick Gibb’s speech at today’s ACME annual conference on maths education in England which I have just followed via Twitter. As a footnote I used to be the committee’s secretary and helped first establish it as a leading name in maths education policy.

The Schools Minister began with the importance of mathematics for all, trusting the professionals to teach it and then threw in some facts. He subsequently got into specifics about the details of the proposed new national mathematics curriculum as he sees it.

Having previously been in two meetings with him on this topic it is difficult not to shudder.

There was then an 10 minute pause on Twitter – was everyone being taught how to do proper maths? Were they all too enchanted to put finger to screen? Someone please tell us what happened!

At this point the questions from the floor began, apparently. It wasn’t at first clear if they were aimed at the Minister or a panel, often used to aid with the difficult ones. Indeed there was no sign of what the questions actually were, merely that every answer included the riposte ‘let’s have a debate’ and the overall implication was that the Minister had already made up his mind on the content of the maths curriculum.

So what was the outcome of the speech? Probably that the Government felt it had engaged at a high level with a key stakeholder group on an important policy issue.

And the real benefit? The Minister feels more confident about defending his views against critique from those who arguably know most about maths education.

Well I suppose that’s worth something, though I am not quite sure what.

More significantly, and prior to Nick Gibb’s arrival, a number of conference speakers had agreed that there was a definite need for mathematics education in England to continue up to the age of 18. The devil is always in the detail and ACME is keen for you to engage with them on this so please do by looking at their post16 paper and organising or getting involved with local consultation meetings. See also my previous blog on post16 education.

NOTE: this is the text of the Gibb speech on the DfE website. It reads a lot better than it sounded via Twitter!

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4 thoughts on “Of ministers and maths education #acme2012

  1. The 10 minute pause might have been the point at which he spoke about the beauty of mathematics, how Lewis Carroll was inspired to write Alice in Wonderland. For a short while even I was entranced and almost convinced that he too saw maths in the same way as I do – then I remembered he was reading someone else’s words.

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