There has been much concern expressed over the the past few years regarding the standards of school mathematical instruction. Critical voices have been heard from both employers of young people and from tutors in higher education where some degree courses have been lengthened to allow time for remedial work in mathematics. Results from international comparative studies have been depressing news for British mathematics teaching. Despite the fact that GCSE results in mathematics have improved (although many would doubt the validity of this), there has been a substantial decrease in the numbers of candidates taking A-level Mathematics.
This is a potentially disasterous situation, because the fact that less students are taking mathematics at A-level implies that there are fewer mathematically able students in higher education, which results in even less well-qualified students going into the mathematics teaching profession.
Whatever our views on the apparent decline in standards, instead of continually criticising our current teaching force, we must now invest in and value them, while at the same time encouraging them to increase their expectations for the mathematical attainment of their pupils; support rather than blame, is needed if we are to rescue British mathematics education.
At the heart of this initiative is an appeal to all concerned to work together, cooperatively and constructively, to improve the situation. We do desperaterly need this collaboration to redress these trends and to improve the current state of mathematics teaching and learning.