OCR’s two new post-16 Core Maths qualifications have got the green light to help bridge the UK’s maths skills gap, having been approved by the Department for Education in December, and accredited by Ofqual in October 2014.
The new qualifications were featured in the Times on 3 January, including a sample question from OCR and feedback about the trial that is currently taking place in 170 schools before the qualifications are introduced in September 2015. David Woolley, Assistant Head of Cheadle Hulme High School, whose school is taking part in the trial, was quoted about the interest of pupils and parents in the new qualifications.
David confirmed: “A small group of pupils are trialling OCR’s Core Maths qualifications at Cheadle Hulme High School. They are not taking Maths A Level but are studying Core Maths alongside A Level subjects such as psychology, business, economics and biology. So far, they have found that the content of Core Maths has benefited their other A Level studies greatly. Handling ideas such as standard deviation, the Normal distribution and correlation in Core Maths has made their application in other subjects much easier.”
David continued: “Core Maths gives students the opportunity to progress their mathematical understanding within real world contexts. The course is designed to ensure that they are able to use mathematics fluently within their other Level 3 studies and beyond. It also gives all students the chance to continue to engage with maths for another two years – this is never a bad thing!”
OCR jointly developed the new qualifications in partnership with leading professional body Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI). It is the only exam board to develop the qualifications with a specialist curriculum development organisation.
Mark Dawe, OCR Chief Executive, said: “OCR has long championed the case for a wider range of post-16 maths qualifications. Guided by feedback from OCR’s regular maths forums, we have pioneered new Level 3 qualifications in practical maths skills. Employers and universities have told us that these are urgently needed to reverse the decline in UK numeracy and encourage more students to study maths beyond GCSE. Through our unique partnership with MEI, we can now offer students the chance to gain a recognised post-16 maths qualification that will expand their career options, better equip them for university and improve their chances in a world where numeracy is key to daily life.”
Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd, The Institution of Engineering and Technology and University College London are among the employers, professional associations and universities that have expressed their support for the new OCR qualifications developed with MEI.
Stella Dudzic, MEI Programme Leader, said: “It has been a privilege to work on this exciting new development in mathematics education. While developing these new qualifications, it has become clear that not only do students need increased quantitative understanding for their future lives, work and study but that this is also a need which is internationally recognised. It is great that we now have qualifications which allow students to learn how to engage in the kinds of problem solving which they will typically encounter in future work and study. It is my hope that, through studying these qualifications, students become increasingly aware of the role that mathematics plays in the modern world and confident in using and understanding quantitative information.”
OCR’s Core Maths Level 3 Certificate in Quantitative Reasoning (MEI) and Level 3 Certificate in Quantitative Problem Solving (MEI) offer alternatives to the more theory-based A/AS Level Maths by focusing on the practical skills needed to solve real-world maths problems. They form part of a new wave of post-16 qualifications for the growing number of students that will need more advanced skills in areas such as statistics, data handling, data analysis, finance, gradients, modelling, geometry, measures, risk, use of technology and spreadsheets.
The new Core Maths qualifications are designed to be taken over two years, are the same size (and carry the same UCAS tariff points) as an AS Level and are graded A to E. For more information, take a look at www.ocr.org.uk/coremaths.
Now here’s a sample question for you to try:
Sample Core Maths question
The male to female sex ratio at birth is the number of males that are born for every female born. The table below shows the countries with the two highest male to female sex ratios at birth in 2013.
Data: CIA World Factbook
(i) Use the information in the table to show that the total number of births in 2013 in Liechtenstein can be estimated as 395. Show that approximately 175 are girls and approximately 220 are boys.
(ii) A researcher is investigating whether the number of boys born in some countries is distinctly different from the number of girls. Her initial model is that the long-term probability of a new baby being a boy is 0.5.
(A) For Liechtenstein investigate whether the figures of 175 girls and 220 boys provide strong evidence that the initial model is incorrect.
Explain your reasoning and show your working clearly.
(B) In 2013 in Azerbaijan 77 305 girls and 87 355 boys were born.
Do these figures provide strong evidence that the initial model is incorrect?
37 x 10.67; dividing 395 in ratio; Rounding to given numbers 175 girls, 220 boys.
(A) Liechtenstein result NOT that unusual (within 3 standard deviations) Mean: 197.5; Standard deviation: 9.9; Liechtenstein is about 2sd away from mean.
(B) Azerbaijan IS unusual, so provides strong evidence that numbers are not equal. Mean: 82,330; Standard deviation: 203; Azerbaijan is about 25sd from mean.