If maths and science were to be made compulsory for year 12 students, institutions would have to ensure all student abilities were catered for, according to one education expert.
University of Tasmania mathematics education professor Kim Beswick said she had seen a gap in the maths and science knowledge of some university students, following comments from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that maths and science should be compulsory for all students up until the end of year 12.
“More universities are requiring, and they should all require, in due course, that maths or science should be a prerequisite school subject to have completed to go onto university,” Mr Turnbull said on Sunday.
“We’ve got to get back to that and ensure that everyone is very literate in those [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] subjects.”
Professor Beswick said every student should do the highest level of maths they possibly could.
“There are students who have gaps,” she said.
“If we’re thinking about making maths compulsory in year 12, we need to think about the maths we’re teaching and how it’s taught.
“Talking about making it a prerequisite for university, the kind of maths necessary for a student going into an arts degree is going to be different from someone doing an engineering degree.”
Professor Beswisk said even a basic knowledge of maths was becoming crucial in Australia today.
“We know that having good maths skills and being numerate sets young people up for jobs and for life in general so it’s terribly important,” she said.
“To be an informed citizen and even to understand arguments around climate change and economics that you hear around you, a basic scientific literacy and understanding of mathematics is important for everybody.”
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said a review of years 9 to 12 education would look at the effectiveness of curriculum provision, design and delivery.
“STEM subjects are offered in all Tasmanian schools with maths and science being required subjects from prep to year 10,” Mr Rockliff said.
“The budget included funding to support an integrated approach to teaching and learning in [STEM].
“For years 7 to 10 this work started in 2016 with the kindergarten to grade 6 resources being developed.”