# Count me in: Making mathematics more inclusive

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## Abstract

Mathematics is important because it provides a powerful, useful way of analysing the natural and the social world. It gives access to an understanding of science and technology, but also to understanding the big social ideas, such as change, growth, risk and complexity. It is also necessary to gain access to some higher education courses and careers. It is therefore desirable that more young people, especially those on the edge of participation in HE, should continue to study mathematics post-16. Researchers investigated whether different kinds of programme and teaching methods affect students’ attitude to the subject and their success with it. They also looked at how wider policy considerations constrain the ways in which AS mathematics students are recruited and taught. They looked at sixth form college students on two types of course: • AS Traditional Mathematics • AS Uses of Mathematics. The research found the following findings and implications: 1F) Different programmes can make significant differences to drop-out rate, and to students’ perceptions of the value of mathematics; 1I) Programmes should be designed to engage students in meaningful uses of mathematics, e.g. via modelling coursework. 2F) Teaching which emphasises understanding and enjoyment can make significant differences to students’ attitudes to and understanding of mathematics, especially for students with lower GCSE grades; 2I) If we value inclusion, and outcomes such as enjoyment and understanding of mathematics, this kind of teaching should be encouraged. 3F) Concern with league tables and pass rates reinforces ‘teaching to the test’, which can be damaging to learners; 3I)Policy makers should reduce the pressure to teach to the test by valuing learning outcomes such as deeper understanding and enjoyment of mathematics.

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