Designing a curriculum based on four purposes: let mathematics speak for itself
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2019, 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Trends in curriculum reform recognise the need to develop skills and competencies in addition to specifying what knowledge should be taught and when. However, a balance between skills and knowledge is sometimes difficult to achieve. In this paper which takes mathematics as the focus, we consider reform currently underway in Wales, from the perspective of a knowledge approach and from the perspective of the Successful Futures report which is, we argue, driven more by a skills approach at the heart of which are four purposes: developing young people as ambitious, capable learners; enterprising, creative contributors; ethical, informed citizens; and healthy, confident individuals. Our interest is in the contribution that mathematics makes to the four purposes; and contribution that the four purposes make (or do not make) to the development of a school mathematics curriculum. After outlining the background and context, the paper consults literature and experts to consider what mathematics is and how the learning of mathematics can be seen to fulfil the four purposes. The study contributes to understanding the difficulties of re-contextualising school subjects from the academic disciplines and proposes that operating with a curriculum driven by big ideas or overarching statements places higher demands on teacher knowledge.