Cambridge Mathematics manifesto for a world-class maths education

13 February 2015

Successive governments in the UK have tried but failed to tackle fundamental problems in maths education, Cambridge argues today. Now a cross-University task force headed up by renowned maths educator Lynne McClure has been established to get to grips with the challenge.

The Cambridge Mathematics manifesto calls for the maths community to work together to secure a world-class mathematics education for children from five to 19.

“The study of maths is worthwhile for its own sake, but it is critical for the understanding of many other subjects and essential for functioning within modern society,” Lynne said.

The manifesto says action is needed for a host of reasons, including the poor performance of England in international comparisons, the low level of uptake of maths after 16 in the UK, and the “seemingly intransigent” low UK levels of adult numeracy. It also points to the shortage of maths teachers in the UK and a disconnect between the maths taught in classrooms and advances in maths understanding.

The study of maths is worthwhile for its own sake, but it is critical for the understanding of many other subjects and essential for functioning within modern society."

“Successive governments have done much, but the immediate challenge remains enormous – and the long-term problems are scarcely touched. Some are wondering if it isn’t time we stopped pretending that mending the holes in the road is enough and instead started building a new road along which we could all travel,” Lynne said.

And whilst the initial impetus for Cambridge Maths comes from the UK, the initiative has the potential to impact on the international scene, too. Lynne points out that many other countries keep their maths curricula under review, even those who do persistently well in the international rankings.

Cambridge Mathematics is a partnership between four Cambridge University departments – the University’s international exams group, Cambridge Assessment; the University’s Faculty of Mathematics and the Faculty of Education, and Cambridge University Press.

At the core of the project is a global framework which will eventually map the full domain and structure of mathematical knowledge from five to 19. To be launched at a major conference in London on 11 March 2015, the framework will be supported by world-class courses, teaching and learning materials, rigorous formative and summative assessments and a high-quality professional development offer.