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Exam Boards voice support for the Language of Mathematics in Science

27 May 2016

Exam Boards voice support for the Language of Mathematics in Science

New guidance published today aims to support teachers of 11-16 science in the use of mathematical ideas in the science curriculum 

Today we have published the much anticipated guidance The Language of Mathematics in Science: A Guide for Teachers of 11-16 Science developed with funding from the Nuffield Foundation.

This publication provides an overview of relevant ideas in secondary school mathematics and where they are used in science. It aims to clarify terminology, and indicate where there may be problems in student understanding. The publication includes explanations of key ideas and terminology in mathematics, guidance about good practice in applying mathematical ideas in science, along with a glossary of terms.

The development of the materials has involved extensive input from various panels of educators and teachers in science and mathematics.

"As schools make their preparation for the implementation of new GCSEs in September, this timely release, along with the forthcoming Teaching Approaches sister publication, will make a significant difference to planning and delivery for the years to come." - Alaric Thompson CSciTeach - Head of Physics, Ulverston Victoria High School

Throughout the project we have been working closely with the leading examination awarding bodies, AQA, Edexcel, Eduqas and OCR, and we will continue to collaborate as they further develop and exemplify good quality assessment items of mathematics in science.

In statements today the leading awarding bodies have issued formal support for the guidance. Kathryn Booth, Senior Manager for Science at Pearson Edexcel comments ‘The new mathematics requirements in science GCSE examinations certainly present a challenge to both teachers and learners. We are very supportive of the aims of ASE’s ‘Language of Mathematics in Science’ project in seeking to provide clarity on mathematics at 11-16 and to support linkage with mathematics used in a science context.’

ASE’s Chief Executive, Shaun Reason, adds ‘It’s been incredibly important to have the support from the awarding bodies for our new guidance, which is recommending achievable practice, and is an initial step in ASE’s continued commitment to supporting teachers with the increased mathematical challenges in science today.’ 

The project team has appreciated the considerable interest and support from our steering group and the Nuffield Foundation throughout this project. 

Read comments from the experts



  • ‘The Language of Mathematics in Science’ is an ASE project, with support from the Nuffield Foundation. The project has been led by Marianne Cutler, Richard Boohan and Richard Needham, and Professor Robin Millar is the Chair of the project’s steering group. For further information on the project visit
  • The Nuffield Foundation is an endowed charitable trust that aims to improve social well-being in the widest sense. It funds research and innovation in education and social policy and also works to build capacity in education, science and social science research. The Nuffield Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. More information is available at

  • The language of mathematics in science – By R Boohan, School Science Review 360 (March 2016) provides a useful introduction to the project and this guidance material. You can find more articles in our School Science Review 'Mathematics in science' special issue.
  • A complementary publication will be available to download from the ASE website in the coming weeks. Using teachers’ accounts, The Language of Mathematics in Science: Teaching Approaches outlines different ways that science and mathematics departments have worked together, and illustrates various approaches to teaching mathematical terms and applications. This publication gives examples of how children respond to different learning activities intended to promote understanding of mathematics within a science context.
  • You can pre-order a hardcopy of the report here from the ASE bookshop. This project builds on The Language of Measurement which is also available.