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Is the skills framework for mathematics in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) fit for purpose?

By Sarah Manlove


The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is working on this question with MYP development staff to inform their mathematics curriculum review. To date, NFER has conducted an expert panel discussion and comparative curriculum analysis of MYP mathematics to GCSE, the mathematics curricula in Australia and Singapore, and the Common Core in the US.

Preliminary results from the expert panel—comprised of three distinguished non-IB mathematics education researchers and two MYP mathematics practitioners–indicate that, overall, the subject content specified in the MYP mathematics skills framework was considered appropriate to middle years’ learners. However, they did suggest some revisions to topics, skills and challenge levels within the framework’s four branches. These suggestions will be considered by the MYP curriculum review later in 2016. In addition to the skills framework appropriateness to middle years’ learners the panel also had the following insights:

  1. Learners should be able to apply mathematical ideas. There is a need to consider the dual role of mathematics as a discipline in its own right and being able to use mathematics as a tool.
  2. There is a sense in which middle years’ mathematics sees a shift from being a set of facts that can be memorised to a collection of inter-related ideas.
  3. While there is still a need for learners to have appropriate techniques at their fingertips, the panel members agreed it is important to allow for the development of a creative mind / creative thinking as a vital aspect of mathematical learning.
  4. Conceptual ideas are important. In a sense, there is a need to develop an intuitive ‘feel’ for mathematics (e.g. the ability to visualise the ideas of proportion in relation to many settings rather than simply being able to mechanically share quantities in a given ratio), which would probably not be developed via a solely procedural-based curriculum.

In the next stage of this research, NFER will gather a wider representation of teacher voices about the MYP skills framework. They are set to launch an online teacher questionnaire in early September 2016 that will be sent to all MYP coordinators – the questionnaire will close on 23 September. For questions about the questionnaire please contact NFER at A report of NFER’s work will be available once the research is complete on IB’s research page.

Sarah Manlove is a research manager at the IB. She has a PhD and more than 17 years of experience in education – as a teacher, lecturer, instructional design consultant for industry, and most recently as an educational researcher of the design of technology-enhanced learning.