Policy and Responses to Initiatives
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics produces policy statements and publishes its responses to National and Government initiatives. Current and past statements and responses can be reached from here.
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) expresses its views through its official organs, the journal Mathematics Teaching and this ATM website. We also write to individuals and organisations on issues of we consider to be of national importance.
Any views expressed by individual members (including Officers of the ATM) on any other media do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ATM. We would recommend that any person encountering such views considers them alongside our stated aims and guiding principles.
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics aims to support the teaching and learning of mathematics by:
- encouraging increased understanding and enjoyment of mathematics
- encouraging increased understanding of how people learn mathematics
- encouraging the sharing and evaluation of teaching and learning strategies and practice
- promoting the exploration of new ideas and possibilities
- initiating and contributing to discussion of and developments in mathematics education at all levels.
Our guiding principles are:
- The ability to operate mathematically is an aspect of human functioning which is as universal as language itself. Attention needs constantly to be drawn to this fact. Any possibility of intimidating with the mathematical expertise is to be avoided.
- The power to learn rests with the learner. Teaching has a subordinate role. The teacher has a duty to seek out ways to engage the power of the learner.
- It is important to examine critically approaches to teaching and to explore new possibilities, whether deriving from research, from technological developments or from the imaginative and insightful ideas of others.
- Teaching and learning are cooperative activities. Encouraging a questioning approach and giving due attention to the ideas of others are attitudes to be encouraged.
Influence is best sought by building networks of contacts in professional circles.
All our statements are moderated through our General Council, Executive or Officers in order that they reflect our aims and guiding principles.
Executive: Association of Teachers of Mathematics
Secondary school accountability
The DfE published a consultation paper on secondary school accountability on Thursday 7 February, alongside the revisions to GCSE reforms.
The consultation contained some significant developments to how the DfE proposes to change the way secondary schools in England are measured - in particular, proposals for wider accountability measures.
Reform of the National Curriculum in England
The Government launched a review of the National Curriculum in January 2011 with the aim of ensuring that the aspirations we set for our children match those in the highest-performing education jurisdictions, and giving teachers greater freedom over how to teach. The proposals represent the outcomes of that review. This consultation is being conducted under section 96 of the Education Act 2002.
The response deadline was 16 Apr 2013.
To the Secretary of State:
“We believe that the proposed new National Curriculum is not fit for children, teachers or for education in the 21st Century. To maintain successful learning and the well-being of our children and their teachers, we demand that the curriculum is re-formulated. In the interests of democracy we urge the DfE to show greater respect for a wider range of stakeholders and their existing knowledge and expertise during this process.” - Sue Cox (University of East Anglia). Supported by: Association for the Study of Primary Education and National Association for Primary Education
National Curriculum Review Response
The ATM and MA Joint Primary Group have submitted their response to the National Curriculum Programmes of Study review.
English politicians are looking to Singapore [yet] those in Singapore are dissatisfied with the national approach to mathematics and are changing the teaching so that problem solving and creativity are even more central.
We find it surprising that the Ofsted findings are not reflected in this draft curriculum.
Whatever the child’s age, the recommendation that ‘before moving on to formal representations, children must have secure conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas’ needs to be built into the curriculum.
[Replace] the statements that ‘children will carry out word problems’ with ‘children will solve a variety of problems and record and interpret results’, and [replace] some of the references to ‘practise’ or ‘recall’ with words such as ‘understand’, ‘explore’ or ‘investigate’.
The nature of the assessment and accountability regime will influence the way in which the curriculum is delivered.
The bottom line is that success will cost money.
EYFS Review Response
Between July and September 2011, the Government consulted on a revised Early Years Foundation Stage framework, responding to the recommendations of an independent review by Dame Clare Tickell. This consultation invited comment on the Government’s proposed changes to some parts of the learning and development requirements in the revised EYFS framework: the early learning goals; and the educational programmes.
The Importance of Teaching • Mar 2011
John White, ATM Honorary Secretary, has written a response to the recent White Paper, The Importance of Teaching (DFE, 2010). With much of the detail still to be made clear there is little on which to directly comment but there are many issues raised which merit continued watchfulness, and a readiness to contribute, both as an Association and as individuals, to signalled reviews...
National Curriculum Review
“Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, announced a review of the primary and secondary National Curriculum in England. The National Curriculum has come to cover more subjects, prescribe more outcomes and take up more school time than originally intended.” — Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Some members of the ATM General Council recently attended two meetings where the changes to the National Curriculum for England were discussed. We are agreed that it is imperative that ATM responds to the call for evidence.
There are some serious implications for mathematics teaching and it is causing great concern that teachers and headteachers are not aware of the implications and do not realise how significant the proposals might be.
As a subject association we have compiled and submitted a response.
We have liaised with other maths associations to present a unified approach and have included research evidence.
Level 3 Qualifications • Jun 2010
The current review of A Levels and other level 3 qualifications in mathematics subjects will not continue.
“I would like to thank [ATM and others] who have contributed to the current review...”
Dismantling the Strategies
“Moves to dismantle the national strategies are welcomed by the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM).”
End of KS3 tests
ATM calls unreservedly for a rapid announcement with immediate effect from the Schools Secretary, as part of his wider overhaul of assessment, to end schools’ requirement to run National Tests for 7 and 11-year-olds.
Response to Williams Review • 2008
Helping children to move from known facts to derived facts requires the teacher to be a skilful facilitator who has a clear understanding of the mathematical landscape.
Impact of Assessment
There is a deep concern about the pressures to ‘teaching to the test’, which focuses on short term goals and a narrow range of skills. This is to the detriment of developing understanding, providing opportunities for skills and knowledge to be applied, encouraging positive attitudes and providing a broader education.
To enable subject teachers to develop a concept and processes led KS3 curriculum, there is a need for subject specific CPD; generic CPD should be avoided. There should be an emphasis on curriculum making. There was a widespread feeling that the cascade model did not work well. CPD would need time off timetable.
Report of the Subject Association Working Group consultation seminar with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority: Examining the draft revised Programmes of Study for the KS3 National Curriculum; the role of subjects within the curriculum advice to DfES, QCA and other bodies.
Early Years Consultation
Mathematical learning is not about acquiring ‘blobs’ of knowledge of increasing difficulty. It is about learning to draw on knowledge and skills to reason and solve problems. We have to help both practitioners and children recognise links between, what might appear to be discrete, parts of mathematics.
Changes to Maths Framework
We should be focusing on building lifelong learners, and that requires we address the different learning styles children use. We are aware of no evidence that under 7s learn best by having whole class objective-led maths lessons.
Review of Frameworks
Teachers are too concerned with ensuring coverage of the objectives in the Framework for a year group, rather than establishing key concepts to make progress in mathematical understanding.
Mathematics is far too valuable a discipline and too elegant a subject for it to be reduced to functionality, either for all or for a particular group of learners.
Functional mathematics must help young people to become mathematically literate: inclusive and enabling. We must ensure it does not become focused on a minimal list of skills assessed in artificial contexts, which would be restrictive, demotivating and unhelpful.
Tomlinson 14-19 Reform
The flexible pathways recommended by both Smith and Tomlinson, together with more emphasis on teacher assessment are likely to lead to a demand for a larger pool of well qualified mathematics teachers.
Our views were sought on the whole range of qualifications in mathematics available post-16. ATM felt that no new qualifications are needed.
Teachers who engage with mathematics and not solely with its algorithmic application are in a stronger position to inspire and develop the learner because their teaching is rooted in a joy of a subject that is untainted by any sense of utility or concern with application.
Shortage of maths teachers
An un-inspired and un-supported teacher cannot be expected to inspire and support learners. An inspired but un-supported teacher burns out and leaves. The most common reason for leaving the profession is the workload resulting from government initiatives.
Is maths harder than English?
One observation is that in English, girls do better than boys. Is this because maths becomes less appealing to girls the older they get? Why do so relatively few girls take maths beyond GCSE when their performance at GCSE is equal to that of boys?
The more children are tested and graded the less motivated they become. We need to foster the kind of teaching in mathematics, as a result of which learners enjoy mathematics, understand its power, want to know more about it and, above all, feel confident about their ability to do mathematics.
We believe in a coherent 14-19 phase that offers choices through flexible pathways. Progress should be assessed throughout the phase by means of external tests, teacher assessment and a portfolio of evidence, leading to a single award which recognises all their achievements.