Duncan Lawson (Chair)
Alice Rogers (vice Chair)
Peter Giblin (Secretary)
Neil Challis (Treasurer)
Jon Forster (RSS)
David Youdan (IMA)
1. Apologies for Absence
Charles Goldie, Derek Goldrei, Jeff Griffiths.
2. Special Item: The consequences of Full Economic Costing of Research Grants,
presented by John Wand (EPSRC).
Rama Thirunamachandran (HEFCE) was also present to answer questions.
The slides from this presentation are available to view in MS Powerpoint, and a summary of the additional points made are available as an MS Word document.
3. Minutes of Previous Meeting (held on 31st March 2004) were approved, subject to the replacement of '(Engineering and Technology Board?)' by '(Engineering Technology Board)'.
4. Matters Arising not otherwise on the agenda:
8(b): An amended response to the Smith Report was sent by the Chairman to the DfES.
9, ACME, (c): HoDoMS is not represented on the working party on CPD set up by the JMC; (d) 50 word statement on function of HoDoMS had been sent by AO.
9, CMS, (a): Another �5k had been received from DfES for the Careers Project. Launch date is 24 November 2004. An editorial board is to be set up, and the website is expected to be complete within 1 year. Input is required from the mathematics community. [See also under item 7h below.]
9, QAA, (a): AR reported that Draft 6 of the document 'Mathematics Programmes, the Qualifications Frameworks and the Bologna Process', dated 23 September 2004, was almost the final form but is not yet for circulation. The final document will go to the DfES. Several points pertinent to this draft were discussed.
a) The Bologna Process will restructure continental degrees into two cycles, producing a 3+2 year pattern nearer to the UK pattern.
b) The MMath qualification is perceived to serve a useful purpose; an 'Integrated Masters' description is preferred.
c) It is believed that the extent to which the design of mathematics curricula is informed by current research goes a long way towards satisfying the framework requirements.
d) Under the ECTS (=European Credit Transfer System, established in 1989), a full-time student studies a total of 60 credits in 1 academic year. (In the UK this is currently called 120 credits. Also 1 UK Credit is notionally 10 hours of total effort, or 1200 hours in a year, whereas the notional total effort under ECTS is at least 1440 hours.)
e) First-cycle programmes are likely to attract 180-240 ECTS credits (mimimum and maximum values); the UK Bachelors degree at 180 ECTS credits would fit this.
f) Second-cycle Masters (MSc) programmes are likely to be between 90 and 120 credits, with at least 60 ECTS credits at M level. Current UK MSc do fit this when they are of a 'specialised' nature. For conversion courses, e.g. in statistics, it may be necessary to argue that the material, even when at 'undergraduate' level, is taught in a way that assumes a 'graduate' level of maturity.
g) For MMath programmes it will be easier to conform to the Bologna model if there is a clear break-point between the 'cycle-1' and 'cycle-2' studies. This suggests that the 'cycle-2' work beyond that for a 'cycle-1' Bachelors degree would have to be separated more clearly from the cycle-1 work than is currently the case. It appears also to mean that the fourth year would need to be a calendar year.
h) There is also discussion of the length of a PhD degree programme, with perhaps a total of 4 years including some 'MSc' work or equivalent, and a realistic exit strategy with a cycle-2 qualification built in. [There is no mention of an intermediate qualification like MPhil.] The total period of 7 years (3 academic + 4 calendar) from admission to university to a Doctorate should be seen as the norm.
i) There remains the issue of funding, which needs to be discussed with HEFCE and the Research Councils.
5. Correspondence/Chair's communications: No items not covered elsewhere.
6. Annual Conference: After discussion it was agreed to approach a number of named individuals, with a view to having six or seven sessions. Action: DL.
7. Further Maths There was a discussion based around the correspondence file which had been circulated. The following general points were made or remade:
a) Students who take FM find it helps (a) their other school maths, (b) their first year university maths.
b) Maths A level is not challenging enough for the best sixth form students.
c) Maths A level is already perceived as hard compared with others; any suggestion that in order to succeed in maths a student needs to study the 'even harder FM' is to be avoided.
d) The maths community needs to avoid the impression that FM is in any way necessary for entry to a degree programme in maths or a maths-rich subject.
e) If FM is not in some way encouraged by universities it may disappear through lack of takeup.
f) FM provision countrywide is patchy; the MEI initiative of distance learning is being funded by the DfES and a number of universities at least offer facilities for this to happen, but it requires a good deal of teacher input.
Possible ideas/actions were suggested:
g) Bearing in mind that FM is usually a fourth A level subject, entry offers could be made with fewer points required of a student with FM than without. Or: 'If you don't satisfy the offer requirements then we will be more sympathetic if you took FM.'
h) A group is looking at the wording of the CMS careers website; there is no consensus on CMS about the role of FM. HoDoMS might make some suggestions about the wording regarding FM. Action: NC, PG to think about wording and circulate to the Committee for comment. The key thing is to set out facts and neutralise misconceptions.
i) A question arose: does any university currently require FM for entry? An email to the Mathsheads list to be sent to find out. Action: PG.
8. Watching Briefs
Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education/Joint Mathematical Counci (AO)
a) Working group on proposals for implementation of Smith recommendations (pathways, CPD, incentives, National Centre structure, local centres, regional centres if they exist). Three organizations representing Maths Advisors (NAMA), Maths Educators (AMET) and Teachers (ATM, MA) to form this working group. The LMS, RSS and HoDoMS voted against this proposal but it was carried.
b) Open call from ACME for two new members, one from primary, one from secondary teaching (maintained sector).
c) HE (Peter Saunders reporting) [see also LMS watching brief below]:
(i) Closure of maths departments: raised by Charles Clarke at meeting with VCs.
(ii) University applications for maths holding up, computer science much down.
(iii) QAA 'must pass everything' rule causing much concern. [See also QAA watching brief below.]
d) International Conference on Mathematics Education (ICME): Celia Hoyles awarded Freudenthal Medal at this year's event. Next one (2006) in Mexico. Perhaps the one after than in the UK.
e) Smith Inquiry: uncertain impact on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Secretary of JMC to write to these administrations.
f) RSS questionnaire: CG had compiled a response on behalf of HoDoMS.
Council for the Mathematical Sciences (DY)
a) Presidents of the organizations on CMS met with Charles Clarke, after the DfES response to Smith was released. There was a focus on the erosion of maths departments; Clarke asked for data on what constitutes adequate regional provision of maths in universities. Also asked for copy of Bologna agreement. CMS responding to Clarke's questions and HoDoMS is to be part of this.
b) Proposed body to unify bodies outside ACME representing mathematics: CMS proposes CMS + University departments + others but two problems: (i) money, (ii) need for broadening to represent GCSE level and higher rather than university level and higher.
c) CMS is to develop a list of essential actions following the International Review of Mathematics in case the EPSRC response is regarded as inadequate.
Qualifications and Curriculum Authorit (DL)
a) Nothing to report ahead of meeting in about six weeks time.
Quality Assurance Agency (AR)
a) Bologna agreement: see item 4, QAA, above.
b) 'Pass everything' rule. Different universities are adopting various strategies here. Action: PG to write to secretary of CMS to express HoDoMS's serious concern about this issue and its inconsistency with the MSOR Benchmark. Draft to be circulated to Committee first.
Higher Education Academy/Learning and Teaching Support Network (DL)
a) LTSN is now the MSOR network of the Higher Education Academy.
b) Pam Bishop has retired; Michael Grove has taken over some of her responsibility, and Fiona Adamson will have specific maths responsibility.
c) The LTSN/HoDoMS group has met, following recommendation 6.5 of Smith (promoting sustainable closer links between HE mathematics departments and mathematics teachers). The role of HE maths departments will be in subject knowledge, not general or subject pedagogy. The group expressed concern about the time involved before anything actually started to happen, in a letter to the Secretary of State on 29 June, suggesting that for a modest sum (�25k) an investigation could be carried out of teacher/school need for mathematics knowledge enhancement, followed bny development of CPD provision in a pilot scheme. The reply (4 August) stresses the need to avoid duplication of effort and suggests a meeting with the (then interim) Chief Adviser for Mathematics. The working group is due to meet on 14 October 2004 and may contact Celia Hoyles about a meeting.
d) The Committee decided to approach Celia Hoyles to meet and discuss the role of HE institutions in CPD for teachers. Action: DL.
University Mathematics Teaching Conference (AH)
a) With the advent of an annual HEA/MSOR (former LTSN) meeting it becomes clear that rationalisation with the UMTC is needed. One conference, probably in September each year, is the likely result. An Interim Council is being formed representing various 'constituencies' (e.g. UMTC (including NC from HoDoMS Committee), LMS, IMA, RSS, HoDoMS (AH), HEA/MSOR). The format is likely to be similar to that of UMTC, that is a working conference. An Organising Committee, a subset of the Interim Council, will draw up a constitution and formulate the policy of the annual conference. AH is on this committee. The conference is likely to migrate round the country, and for 2005 will be in Loughborough, in the week beginning 12 September, or Wolverhampton (Telford Site), week beginning 5 Sept.
b) Provisional name for conference ACTUM (Annual Conference for Teaching Undergraduate Mathematics). The conference would have refereed proceedings.
c) Proposed that the 2005 conference should incorporate elements of HELM (Helping Engineers Learn Mathematics).
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (CG)
See the special item 2 above.
Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (DY)
a) Emma Hastings has joined the Education Office.
b) Proposed to the Science Council that Chartered Mathematician should be an automatic route to Chartered Scientist.
Royal Statistical Society (JF)
a) A response to the Smith Report is now being put together.
London Mathematical Society (AR)
a) A gender imbalance has been reported comparing those pupils with A* maths with those studying A level: the proportion of women goes down. (Yet members reported that their degree programmes were around 50% women.)
b) The JMC working group on CPD for teachers (Peter Saunders representing LMS). Some informal notes of a meeting this month contain the following points:
(i) Formal qualification needed for teachers of mathematics in schools, preferably directly under the DfES. Possibly QMT (Qualified Mathematics Teacher) as a title. Classroom experience + maintenance requirement should be needed.
(ii) Curriculum which the teacher would be expected to cover at university or later. Graduates in sciences who had not covered proof and statistics would need to make this up.
(iii) Likewise essential subject-based pedagogy would be needed.
(iv) Roughly one-third of a traditional degree programme in maths might be all that is needed, and this might be attractive to school students who do not like the idea of three years of non-stop mathematics.
(v) Such a provision might well help small or threatened maths departments to survive.
Teacher Training Agency (DG, in his absence)
a) Many schemes, u/g ambassadors, student associate, individual universities' schemes, lead to confusion. No figures for the total participation are known, and indeed the schemes are not subject-based. Committee agreed that HoDoMS should attempt to gather information on numbers by an email to HoDs. Action: DL.
b) The DfES response to Smith suggests that the TTA should develop subject-based CPD for teachers; at present there is no subject-based work within the TTA's CPD provision.
Widening Participation (TM)
Nothing to report.
9. State of membership The Treasurer reported that the membership total in 2003/4 was an increase of 7 or 8 on the previous year. Also there was a small surplus (�2300) this year in the accounts following the loss the previous year. A new call for members will go out soon with a follow-up once more details of the Annual Conference are known. Action: NC.
10. Any other business
a) The Schwartz review on admissions to universities has generated a high-level working group on post-qualifications applications. There may be no specific maths angle here.
b) The Secretary reported that the nominations for the RAE panels on behalf of HoDoMS had been sent in to HEFCE.
Peter Giblin, Hon. Secretary, 26 September 2004