I have looked for reports related to mathematics education in the UK (but England specifically). Frequently they come to my attention via twitter or the newspapers (usually highly interrelated, so both).

The list of reports does not include research papers published in research journals although there are some that report on research such as those produced by Nuffield (e.g. Towards universal participation in post-16 mathematics : lessons from high-performing countries). I argue that these should be included because of the (implicit) intended readership of policy makers. For example, the foreword to this report states that:

“While there is now a broad consensus that change is necessary, the debate about the precise nature of this change will continue, particularly in the context of concurrent reforms of GCSEs and A levels. At the Nuffield Foundation, we are keen to ensure this debate is informed by rigorous and independent evidence.” (p. 2).

The implication is that those engaged in the debate should read the report. (The report also passes my test for ‘glossiness’ – see below). 

The reports include those produced by:

  • governmental committees such as the House of Lords Select Committee on STEM or the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education
  • governmental bodies for education such as the Department for Education, Ofsted and Ofqual
  • Royal Societies such as the RSA and the Royal Society
  • advisory bodies such as the Advisory Committee for Mathematics Education.

The reports may be aimed at policy makers, but also at schools, colleges and universities although the audience for the reports is only sometimes made explicit. For example, the Ofsted report Mathematics: made to measure appears to be aimed at schools (head teachers, heads of mathematics departments) and the Department for Education, stating that:

“This report calls on schools to take action to ensure that all pupils experience consistently good mathematics teaching. They must pinpoint and tackle the inconsistencies and weaknesses. We also urge the Department for Education to raise national mathematical ambition and take action to improve pupils’ mathematical knowledge and understanding.” (p. 4).

On the other hand, the RSA report, Solving the mathematics problem

outlines the core choices facing mathematics education and builds on the recommendations of the Vorderman Report by examining which mathematics approaches and reforms have worked overseas” …. “highlight[s] some of the approaches that might inform or give strength to our own reforms.” (p. 4 and p. 23).

It is not clear for whom the report is written.

Many of, but not all, the reports are glossy and attractive, often with considerable care given to images and layout. This is important, I think, in saying something about the intended readership.


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