We Say

With a long history of promoting the very best in learning and teaching Mathematics, The Mathematical Association actively engages in consultation and discussion on the issues currently affecting Mathematics education.

We respond professionally and constructively to ministerial announcements and to proposals from the Department for Education, and from bodies concerned with curricula, assessment and training. We comment on inquiry reports, academic research findings and reports published by organizations and learned bodies supporting Mathematics in Britain. Occasionally, we adopt position papers prompted by discussions amongst ordinary members, and at our committees.

We hope that we have something distinctive to say on Mathematics curriculum and pedagogy, formative and summative assessment, inspection, the dissemination of quality assurance information, and the training, expertise, professional development, recruitment and retention of Mathematics teachers.

Here are some of the things WE SAY …

January 2022

Ofqual consultation on designing and developing accessible assessments.

This is what we said

Background documentation can be found here

The Mathematical Association response to the joint Ofqual/Department for Education consultation:

‘Contingency arrangements: GCSE, AS, A level, Project and AEA’ 12th October 2021

Ofqual and DfE consultation about contingency arrangements in the event that examinations have to be cancelled next Summer.

On 30th September, much anticipated information about the examinations in England was released by the Department for Education and Ofsted. We welcome your views on this.

Read our summary and contact our Teaching Committee

New Secretary of State for Education

We offer our congratulations to the Rt. Hon Nadhim Zahawi, MP, for the appointment of Secretary of State for Education. 

Read our letter to the Secretary of State

Read the reply received in October 2021

Ofqual and DfE consultation on proposed changes to assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2022 (18th July 2021)

Read the MA response to the consultation: click here

MA/ATM Primary Group

Read the Response to OFSTED Research Review

Mathematics is a ‘creative and highly interconnected discipline’ (DfE, 2013, p.3) which is often misinterpreted as having a narrow, arithmetic focus. Both
associations uphold the current National Curriculum (NC) aims of fluency (conceptual understanding), reasoning (following a line of enquiry, conjecturing
relationships and generalisations, developing an argument, justification of proof using mathematical language) and problem solving (non-routine
problems). One of the purposes of this document is to remind practitioners of the importance of these aims in interpreting the Ofsted Research Review.
After all, these aims support a ‘high-quality mathematics education [which] provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason
mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject’ (DfE, 2013, p.3).

The Teaching and Learning of Multiplication Bonds: A Position Statement

Pupils need to develop an understanding of the multiplicative composition of numbers, fluency in working flexibly with multiplication bonds and automaticity in knowing them.
This Position Statement arises from meetings of the Joint ATM/MA Primary Group which have frequently turned to discussing issues around the teaching of multiplication. In the light of these discussions, we hope this statement will help to inform the debate around how best to teach and learn multiplication bonds.

Read here

Consultation on an additional GCSE, AS and A level exam series in autumn 2020?

Proposals for an additional exam series in autumn 2020 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This consultation ran from 1pm on 22 May 2020 to 11:45pm on 8 June 2020

Read the full report here

Consultation on proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2021

This consultation ran from 2 July 2020 to 11:45pm on 16 July 2020

Read the full report here

Consultation on grading specified general qualifications in 2020: GCSEs, AS, A levels, Extended Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award.

This consultation ran from 4:45pm on 15 April 2020 to 11:45pm on 29 April 2020

Read the full report here

April 2020 OFSTED Consultation on Initial Teacher Education.

OFSTED has proposed changes to the initial teacher education inspection framework and handbook for September 2020, and consulted on them.  Teaching Committee discussed this over the internet and responded.  We agreed strongly with all of OFSTED's proposals, and made substantial comments, some of them specific to mathematics.

Read our full response here, including OFSTED's proposals.

February 2020 OFSTED Consultation on Removing the Exemption from Inspection for Schools and College rated Outstanding

OFSTED propose to remove the exemption, which can leave some schools uninspected for up to ten years, and they conducted a consultation about it.  We discussed this at Teaching Committee, and agreed with the proposal.  We always look for implications specific to mathematical education, but this time we didn't find any.

Read our full response here

October 2019 Report on the meeting between The Mathematical Association (MA) and the Department for Education (DfE)

The following was discussed at the meeting on 23rd October 2019:

  • Issues surrounding A level Mathematics.
  • Year 4 Multiplication Tables Check (MTC).
  • Recruitment and retention of mathematics teachers, and workload and wellbeing.
  • DfE’s planned Post-16 Mathematics Teacher Focus Group and MA’s Post-16 subcommittee of Teaching Committee.
  • Promoting Maths Week England

Read the full report here

Read an associated TES article here.

September 2019 Secretary of State For Education Gavin Williamson's response to the MA's letter

When Gavin Williamson MP was appointed Secretary of State for Education, we wrote to him to introduce ourselves as the sort of people he might want to consult.  Here is our letter.  He wrote back and invited us to arrange a meeting to brief one of his officials.  We are now setting that up, so this will be our first opportunity to speak truth to this particular power.

April 2019 Education inspection framework 2019: inspecting the substance of education

Consultation document seeking views on OFSTED proposals for changes to the education inspection framework from September 2019.

Read the MA response here.

Consultation on changes to Ofqual’s regulatory framework for national assessments

Read the MMSA response paper here.

November 2017 Functional Skills consultation – Mathematics from MMSA

General comments about the consultation document

The statement “Mathematical problem solving is an important aspect of Functional Skills, but it is also vital that the underpinning knowledge and skills required can be demonstrated in their own right.” undermines the original purpose of Functional Skills which was about the ability to use mathematics to solve problems in everyday adult contexts. The consultation document refers to relevance to “the workplace” and fails to mention every day contexts, and further study for all levels of Functional Skills.

Read the full response here.

1 November 2017 - Summary of the meeting with Minister Nick Gibb

The 45 minutes discussion was very professional and the conversation flowed well.  We demonstrated that the joint Primary group can both support and challenge ideas within mathematics education. It was helpful having two colleagues from STA present as we were able to express thanks for being invited to attend the KS1 and KS2 expert test review panels. We also expressed interest in supporting the curriculum division within the Dfe. We used a range of sources (the Minister’s speeches, KS2 TA evidence, children’s work) to provide supporting evidence for the points we were making; e.g. that children should not be using a standard method for all questions in the NC tests, but they often do because teachers are led by the limiting mark scheme. All parties agreed this was not conducive to children learning. The meeting ended positively with all parties agreeing that opening lines of communication through this meeting had been helpful and would be useful to continue in the future. 

Read the full summary here.

A proposal for the amalgamation of MMSA organisations. Read the full paper here

The paper arises from reflection on the duty of trustees of a charitable organisation (such as the MA) to periodically consider whether the charitable aims of the body would be better served by amalgamation with others. It should be read in conjunction with Sue Pope’s excellent article,The Future of UK Mathematics Associations, published in 2012 in Mathematics in School and Mathematics Teaching, here.

If you would like to share your thoughts please use this email to do so.


Professor Sir Adrian Smith's review of Post 16 Mathematics

See the Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb's REPLY to the MA's letter to him regarding the review's findings.

August 2017 - Why has continuation funding not been found for the Underground Mathematics Project?

This outstanding project is not yet complete. Ceasing funding at this stage in the project is an extraordinary decision and makes no sense in terms of the government’s declared priorities.

We, the Association for Teachers of Mathematics and The Mathematical Association, write to the Secretary of State for Education as two of the subject associations that represent mathematics teachers to ask why continuation funding was not found for the Underground Mathematics project given its success and the emphasis placed on the development of Level 3 mathematics.

Read the letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, here.

July 2017 - MA’s letter to RH Nick Gibb, MP

Read in full here.

June 2017 Primary assessment in England consultation

This consultation seeks views on the future of primary assessment and the implications for accountability.  Our response was submitted jointly on behalf of The Mathematical Association and the Association of Teachers of Mathematics on June 22nd, 2017.  Read in full here.

Jan 2017 - Green Paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, read summary notes of this green paper here.

Jan 2017 - INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE STUDIES (2015).  A brief summary of the recently-published findings of the 2015 TIMSS and PISA international comparative studies.  Read the summary here

Oct 2016 - Read Nick Gibb's reply to the MMSA July letter to the Secretary of State for Education re proposed mathematics progress checks in Year 7.

Oct 2016 - Read the MMSA letter to Dr. Watson, NCTL, re Mathematics Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses. 

Sept 2016 - Read Nick Gibbs reply to MA & ATM's letter to Justine Greening re Year 7 'catch-up' funding.

July 2016 - On 15th July the MA President and Chair on behalf of the Council sent a letter of congratulations to the newly appointed Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening (read letter here) and read her response here.

July 2016 - Read the MA & ATM's letter to Justine Greening expressing concern at the announcement that Year 7 'catch-up' funding is to be frozen....

July 2016 - Read the MMSA letter to Justine Greening regarding our serious concern about the proposed Year 7 progress check in mathematics.

Breaking news 7 July 2016: the year 6 SATs results

The Mathematical Association recognises the tremendous effort that teachers and young people have invested in working towards the new year 6 SATs. For 70% of pupils to reach a mastery standard in this demanding new mathematics curriculum after only two years of  a six-year programme is a remarkable achievement which deserves considerable recognition. As an association, we support the intentions of the new curriculum with its renewed emphasis on problem solving and reasoning and  its aspiration for all, though we have cautioned that aiming too high too fast (for teachers or pupils) risks threatening confidence, enjoyment and progression. While we recognise the continuing challenge for both teachers and young people, we look forward to seeing year 6 pupils build on their achievements when they begin secondary school in September, and to continuing our work with the range of teachers of mathematics to ensure high quality, enjoyable school mathematics experiences for all.

Government changes to Early Years' Assessment

The joint MA/ATM Primary Group recently sent a letter to Nicky Morgan MP regarding the imminent changes to early year's assessment. A response has been received. Read our letter to Mrs Morgan here. Read the response letter here.

Ofqual Report on SAMs

The Mathematical Association broadly welcomes the publication of the Ofqual report on the relative difficulty and demand of the reformed GCSE mathematics sample assessment materials (SAMs). We concur with the conclusions reached, and in particular that assessments of the new GCSE should fully reflect its aims of promoting mathematical fluency, reasoning and problem solving. We are also pleased to see that the analysis recognises the very real challenges of developing assessments which allow the range of students to access questions and so to fully demonstrate their mathematical competencies.

It is right that there should be further consideration of how curriculum intentions can be better reflected in the regulations for Mathematics GCSE; however, we urge Ofqual to proceed with urgency to accredit SAMs consistent in demand both with one another and with improved regulations. That will enable schools to develop their teaching and learning for the new Mathematics GCSE with confidence and to the benefit of their pupils.

Position Papers from the MA


October 2016:  Education Select Inquiry into Key Stage 2 Tests 2016: MathematicsThis response relates solely to the mathematics tests at the end of Key Stage 2 in 2016

June 2016: A joint letter from MMSA (MA, ATM, AMET, NAMA, NANAMIC) to Nicky Morgan re proposed Year 7 progress check.  Read here.

February 2016: The MA and ATM's joint response to OFQUAL's consultation on the Final Entries to Legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels.  Read it here.

January 2016: MA response to OFQUAL's AS and A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics consultation.   Read here.

January 2016:   MA response to OFQUAL's Regulating Use of Calculators in New GCSEs, AS and A Levels consultation.  Read here.


November 2015: The Mathematical Association’s response to Education Committee consultation on teacher supply.   Read here.

November 2015: Additional Reformed GCSE and A level subject content consultation.  Read here.

November 2015: Responding to the Developing New GCSEs, AS and A levels for Teaching in 2017 - part 2.  Read here.

January 2015: Correspondence with Ofqual about the new GCSE specifications and specimen assessment materials:

 Ofqual's letter to the MA, January 2015 Read it here
The MA's response to Ofqual, January 2015 Read it here


Subject Knowledge
Read the MA's position paper, November 2014 here.

Early Years Baseline Assessment
Read the joint MA ATM Primary Group's letter to Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, concerning three urgent recommendations for implementation before further policy decisions are made, here.

Ofqual's consultation on Developing new GCSE, A level and AS qualifications, 2014
Read the MA's response, submitted in September 2014

DfE's consultation on the Reformed GCSE and A level subject content, 2014
Read the MA's response, submitted in September 2014

Ofqual's consultation on Completing GCSE, AS and A level Reform, 2014
Read the MA's response, submitted in July 2014

Consultation on Setting the Grade Standards of new GCSEs in England
From September 2015, 14 year-olds in England will start studying the new GCSEs. These will be graded 9 - 1 rather than A* - G as are the current GCSEs.
Here is The Mathematical Association's response to the 'Setting the Grade' consultation


DfE subject content consultation on new A levels
Read our letter to the Secretary of State for Education, December 2013

Ofqual consultation on Regulatory Requirements for new A Levels
Read our letter to the Chief Regulator of Ofqual, December 2013

The PISA report: Statement by The Mathematical Association December 2013
The findings of the PISA Report on attainment in mathematics... read what we say here

DfE 16-19 Accountability Consultation
Read the MA's response, submitted jointly in November 2013 with the ATM, IMA, NAMA and NANAMIC here

Converging Views on the Issue of Early and Repeated Entry for GCSE Mathematics:
Read our letter of October 2013 to the Secretary of State for Education here
Read the response in November 2013 here

Publication of the new Key Stage 4 mathematics content
The Mathematical Association welcomes the improvements made to the draft Key Stage 4 mathematics subject content. It is pleasing to see that several issues raised during our discussions with the Department for Education have been acted upon. We welcome the fact that students will not now be required to memorise so many formulae and the judicious increase in demand means there should be sufficient material to motivate and challenge the most able without making the rest of the content inaccessible to the majority.
The Government has put mathematics at the heart of their education reforms. The Mathematical Association is cautiously supportive of the suggestion that schools should be encouraged to increase contact time for our subject but would not like this to result in the narrowing of the school curriculum so there are fewer opportunities for all to excel.
https://www.ncetm.org.uk/files/16823201/GCSE Mathematics content - FINAL 1 Nov 2013.pdf.

Primary assessment and accountability under the new national curriculum
Read the consultation submission which we made jointly with the ATM in October 2013

The MA welcomes initiatives to counter early entry in its statement: