Subtracting difference: troubling transitions from GCSE to AS-level mathematics

Mendick, Heather. 2008. Subtracting difference: troubling transitions from GCSE to AS-level mathematics. British Educational Research Journal, 34(6), pp. 711-732. ISSN 0141-1926 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article provides an approach to understanding the widely acknowledged difficulties experienced by young people in the transition from pre-16 to post-16 mathematics. Most approaches to understanding the disenchantment with and drop-out from AS-level mathematics focus on curriculum and assessment. In contrast, this article looks at the role of relationships, taking a psychosocial approach. It draws on data from a three-year qualitative study into why young people choose mathematics. It argues that educational practitioners and policy makers are responding to stories of failure and drop-out by excluding more people from access to mathematics. There is less and less room for difference within our mathematics classrooms. This happens because of the ways that discourses around mathematics fix how we think of the subject, who can learn it and what kind of relationships are possible between learners and mathematics. Instead the article argues for unfixing these through policies and pedagogies of difference.

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transitions, A level, gender, social class, mathematics, education, psychosocial

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


December 2008Published


Funding bodyFunder IDGrant Number
Economic and Social Research CouncilUNSPECIFIED
Department of Educational Studies, Goldsmiths, University of LondonUNSPECIFIED

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Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2010 07:17

Last Modified:

25 Jun 2021 09:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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