Should A-Level Maths be compulsory?

by Sara

The Heriot-Watt University in Scotland is having to provide top-up lessons for first-year students studying science,technology and engineering. Leading academic, Professor Martin McCoustra claims that skills such as solving equations are no longer taught thorougly at school. Professor Brain Cantor, Vice Chancellor of York University also said: "We have to give maths remedial classes, often even to triple-A students"

This statement comes just a few days after the House of Lords committee announced that students entering university were often short of the required levels of mathematical skills and called for more students who wish to study science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) to take A-level maths. The report reveals that almost two-fifths of those taking chemistry at university and a fifth of those on engineering courses have not studied maths past GCSE level.

Although the recommendations are aimed at universities in England and Wales, Mr. McCoustra said: "The same issue applies in Scotland and needs to be addressed by the relevant qualification bodies"

The House of Lords report suggested that maths A-level should be compulsory for all sixth-formers, regardless of what subjects they are studying at A level. Unsurprisingly, students strongly oppose to the idea.

Why would a student wishing to study foreign languages or the history of art need to study A -level maths?

Maths is seen as a difficult subject by many students and few have decided what degree or course they want to study by the time they are 16. A considerable amount of students are unaware that if they don't take maths their choices are immediatly restricted.

Even if you have decided not to take a course in a Stem subject, achieving an appropiate level of maths is paramount in today's world and enables people to understand the statistics used in the news, make sense of the economy, medicine and law.

We all the know the importance of maths, but is it really a good idea to force all students to take A-level maths? The debate is open, we welcome your comments!