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Low attainment in mathematics: An analysis of 60 years of policy discourse in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Jeremy Hodgen, Colin Foster, Margaret Brown

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurriculum Journal
Accepted/In press2021

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Publisher Copyright: © 2021 British Educational Research Association Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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The problem of low attainment in mathematics has been an increasingly prominent feature of the policy discourse in England over the last 60 years; however, evidence from comparative studies indicates that little progress has been made in finding a solution. In this paper, we analyse the changing policy discourse of low attainment in mathematics through the main reports and speeches published in England, beginning with the Newsom Report, Half Our Future, in 1963, and continuing to the present day. We chart the evolving perspectives on the nature of ability, expectations, curriculum ideology and frame of reference through the changing language used in these documents, noting tensions and inconsistencies which arise through continuing lack of clarity about definitions and assumptions.

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