A-level
maths gets Cambridge
overhaul

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CAMBRIDGE University has announced it is helping to overhaul the maths curriculum for A-level students.

Its mathematicians are developing a new programme aimed at teaching pupils about core maths ideas and how to link them together.

However, the university rejected reports that it would be setting new maths A-levels.

It said that its maths education programme will be based on “simple underlying mathematical ideas”.

Revisions to the qualifications will focus on concepts such as trigonometry and probability, according to reports.

A report submitted by the university’s Department of Pure Mathematics to the Department for Education claims that changes to the qualifications are needed because “the majority of the talented students which Cambridge is able to recruit do not have sufficient mastery of basic mathematics to enable them to confidently engage with anything other than routine problems”.

It said: “Existing A-level curriculums treat topics superficially and the UK has lost the tradition of teaching school mathematics coherently and in depth. The effect on Cambridge is acute.”

The document, by Professor Martin Hyland, the head of the department, recommends creating “graded sets of problems” for bright teenagers, while resources for lessons will be made available online, according to reports.

Pilot versions of the material will be published from next summer, and will be developed over the following two years.

A Cambridge University spokeswoman said: “We will not be setting A-level exams – it is about enhancing the existing curriculum and it involves very closely working with schools.”

The move by Cambridge is the first since Education Secretary Michael Gove announced earlier this year that he intends to give universities, particularly the most elite institutions, “a far greater role” in designing A-levels in the future.