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Report of Professor Sir Adrian Smith's review of post-16 mathematics July 2017

Principal focus of the project

This report's focus is wide ranging, covering maths as a life-skill for employment and engaging with technology, highlighting the pathways and lack of uptake for maths as a further or higher education subject among learners through statistical analysis of demographics and regionality. The capacity for educational organisations to deliver maths is examined in relation to their incentives and funding, presenting recommendations for securing future maths abilities in learners and workers. The researcher also examines policy and systemic issues presenting barriers to maths in post-16 education. All of this is funnelled into arguments for improving maths provision in England specifically, and into value judgements on the current pathways, and their uptake, available to learners. 

Areas of learning
What is this about and what were the main findings?

This research report found that despite strong demand for maths and associated skills in the workplace, this demand is not being met due to low uptake and achievement of maths beyond GCSE. Adults with stronger numeracy skills earn, on average, higher wages, and due to the increasing sophistication of technological roles within the workforce there should be a focus on improving the provision and quality of maths beyond GCSE. The researcher highlights that stronger funding for maths at this level will likely deliver significant payback from labour market skills anbd long-term economic benegfits. Data was gathered through document analysis. 

Resource form
Number of participants who worked with the project
Name(s) of authors

Sir Adrian Smith


This report examines methods for improving maths education for 16-18 year old learners to ensure that the workforce is equipped with appropriate mathematical skills, including examining the case for more or all students continuing to study mathematics to age 18

Resource Type: Research report