Letter: Don't blame maths teachers for errors of the syllabus

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with anger the headline, 'Poor teaching puts pupils off maths' (17 August). Perhaps Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) inspectors would like to investigate why fewer pupils are doing maths A-level. To lay the blame on the teachers is by far the easiest option.

Are there any statistics to show the difference between the number of pupils who start A-level maths and those that actually finish? Children cope well with GCSE maths and go into A-level with A grades confident and enthusiastic. What do they discover? They are suddenly faced with a syllabus that is so far removed from their previous experience that these successful candidates suddenly become failures because they cannot cope with the work. Could it be that teachers and pupils are trying to work with a flawed syllabus imposed on them from above?

Surely something must be done to bridge the gap between GCSE and A-level. Teachers are powerless to change such a fundamental flaw in the curriculum. Has it occurred to the government ministers or Ofsted inspectors or indeed the media that the status quo may be at fault and that an already demoralised teaching profession is trying to deliver the impossible?

Perhaps Ofsted officials might be better employed trying to discover how to bridge the gap, so that successful GCSE pupils can continue their studies with equal confidence and enthusiasm at a higher level. Continued and relentless attack on the profession will only serve to drive away dedicated teachers and prevent students entering it.

Yours faithfully,



North Yorkshire