A-level in maths fails to impress

August 3, 2001

The lack of geometry in the new A and AS-level mathematics courses means students no longer have a suitable foundation for university science and engineering courses, according to a report published yesterday.

The report from the Royal Society and the Joint Mathematical Council states: "The working group doubts that the current geometrical content of A-level mathematics forms a suitable foundation for those students who go on to study science or engineering."

Philip Diamond, higher education manager at the Institute of Physics, said:

"We have concerns about the mathematical preparation of university science students... universities recognise the different preparation of students and are being pragmatic because they have to be pragmatic."

The IoP is conducting a review of undergraduate physics, due to be published in October, which will examine the mathematical preparation of physics students.

The chair of the joint working group, Adrian Oldknow of University College Chichester, said: "Many of those currently teaching mathematics in secondary schools are not mathematics graduates. Due to the problem of progression, it cannot be assumed that even trained mathematics graduates are adequately equipped to teach geometry in the way that the working group envisages."

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