IMA’s Response to the Smith Review of Post-16 Mathematics

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) welcomes the publication of Professor Sir Adrian Smith’s review of post-16 mathematics. Since the publication of his first report into post-14 mathematics in 2004, the mathematical sciences community has worked collectively to address the issues and challenges that we as a subject community face. With the UK continuing to lag well behind the rest of the developed world in the number of students studying mathematics post 16 challenges remain ahead, but Sir Adrian’s report provides a framework to address these through the development and implementation of sustainable solutions.

As a learned society with many members based within business and industry, we welcome and endorse the recommendations for strengthening the importance of Further Education in the post-16 mathematics landscape and in developing technical pathways so that we might one day achieve the aspiration of most or all students continuing their study of mathematics until the age of 18. Over the last ten years, the IMA has supported mathematical sciences departments in universities to enhance their interactions with schools and colleges with a view to encouraging future generations of mathematicians. We recognise and endorse the recommendations that encourage universities to continue and extend these activities to ensure that all learners, regardless of their backgrounds can benefit from the joy and opportunity that studying our subject has to offer.

One of the successes of the last decade has been the establishment of support programmes that have made a significant contribution to the growth of the mathematical sciences community. We welcome the positive nature of the government response to Sir Adrian’s report and the announcement of £16million in funding for the establishment of a new Level 3 Maths Support Programme which will allow existing good practice to be continued, but believe significant further funding is needed to allow all of the recommendations in the report to be implemented in full. In particular, we must ensure there exists a sustainable mechanism for ensuring a sufficient supply of well-qualified and supported mathematics teachers who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to inspire future generations of mathematics learners. Since 2012, and in conjunction with other mathematical organisations, the IMA has led the Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarships. Through this initiative we have supported 441 graduates to make the transition into mathematics teaching, with (to date) another 205 commencing their initial teacher training place in 2017/18. With sustained government support we would be delighted to continue this work on behalf of the mathematical sciences community.

By drawing upon our membership, the IMA is well positioned to help government with the implementation of the recommendations in Sir Adrian’s report. We look forward to working with the government and other mathematical societies and organisations to do so.


Michael Grove FIMA
Honorary Secretary with responsibility for Education


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