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Volume 549: debated on Monday 3 September 2012

The Government have introduced a higher level test in mathematics for primary pupils to ensure that stretch is provided for the most able. More students are able to study further maths A-level as a result of the Department’s further maths support programme. We are also introducing specialist maths free schools for 16 to 18-year-olds, which will offer our most talented young mathematicians the chance to excel in maths.

I know that my hon. Friend is aware that we need to do more to encourage the 250,000 students each year who achieve a good GCSE in maths but are discouraged from taking it at A-level. Will the Government introduce a new maths qualification for 16 to 18-year-olds who have a grade C at GCSE but for whom A-level is not suitable?

My hon. Friend is right about the importance of maths. We need to do more to encourage even those who have an A to C grade in GCSE maths to continue studying maths, including those who choose not to take an A-level. We want to see the vast majority of students studying maths to age 18 within a decade. The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education is consulting on options for new qualifications and will provide advice to the Department in the autumn, after which we will decide on the Government’s role in the design of any such qualifications.