Solving the Maths Problem: International Perspectives on Mathematics Education

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This resource, written by Emma Morris, outlines the core choices facing mathematics education and builds on the recommendations of the 2011 Vorderman Report, by examining which mathematics approaches and reforms have worked overseas. The paper does not recommend directly importing practice from either of the case study sites, high-achieving Hong Kong or neighbouring Scotland, but rather that their experiences of wide-ranging reforms should inform debate in England. Different approaches to mathematics education in secondary and upper secondary education are explored, in the context of the Vorderman Report recommendations. Recent research and policy work in the field highlight key themes, which include why mathematics is important both for individual attainment and broader educational and economic goals, together with the main challenges that hinder England’s students from more successful performance and progression. Prior to beginning research for this paper it was agreed with OCR that Scotland and Hong Kong would provide comparison case studies of overseas approaches to mathematics curriculum and assessment in secondary and upper secondary education. These countries were chosen for a number of reasons: *Both have recently undergone significant curriculum and assessment reform in order to address issues of attainment and progression. *Both perform better than England in the mathematics scoring of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). *Hong Kong is one of the highest overseas performers in mathematics, ranking third in the most recent PISA scores (PISA, 2010) and identified as high-attaining by the Nuffield Foundation (Nuffield, 2010).

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