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# New maths and further maths A Levels Watch

1. (Original post by TenOfThem)
It is worth pointing out that English students in Y5 perform well in TIMSS so it appears that the issue starts in secondary rather than primary education
Well I went through First School -> Middle School -> High School, so I'm easily confused

Culture of low expectations perhaps? When thousands of pupils can be put in for GCSE 6 months or a year early there must be something wrong with the structure of the exam?

If I had to put up with 2 years of excessive numeracy testing and counting squares under histograms I'd probably be bored silly and underperform. We did matrices, groups and modular arithmetic under SMP before I left middle school at age 13!
2. (Original post by davros)
We did matrices, groups and modular arithmetic under SMP before I left middle school at age 13!
Ah, I was obviously behind target, I didn't teach them until Year 9.

I always liked the group of 2,4,6,8 under multiplication mod 10.

Mind you, 2-D transformations and matrices went beyond the current FP1 specification, since we had shears parallel to the axes.
3. (Original post by TenOfThem)
It is worth pointing out that English students in Y5 perform well in TIMSS so it appears that the issue starts in secondary rather than primary education
This fits with my own experience. Many ten and eleven year olds that I see can add fractions, do division and long multiplication and generally have good arithmetic and problem solving skills, for their age. The older students that I see often tell me that they cannot learn much in class because of a few disruptive students. They also often seem to be set work that they are not ready for. For example they are required to solve simultaneous equation before they can solve simple linear equations or work confidently with negative numbers.
Edit..
Of course students who come to me at ten and those that come to me at 15 might be quite different...types.
4. (Original post by tiny hobbit)
Ah, I was obviously behind target, I didn't teach them until Year 9.

I always liked the group of 2,4,6,8 under multiplication mod 10.

Mind you, 2-D transformations and matrices went beyond the current FP1 specification, since we had shears parallel to the axes.
Well I think "our" Middle School was ahead of the other feeder Middle School by quite a way I seem to remember when we moved up to High School (we were obviously in the posher area of town!!)

A friend of mine sheared a sheep in one of our early O level lessons at high school when we were about 14 - he drew a picture of a sheep on graph paper and applied a shear to it! This is the sort of fun element that seems sadly lacking from GCSE now.
5. (Original post by davros)
A friend of mine sheared a sheep in one of our early O level lessons at high school when we were about 14 - he drew a picture of a sheep on graph paper and applied a shear to it! This is the sort of fun element that seems sadly lacking from GCSE now.
I like it!

With D1 students, I always draw for them the joke from Robin Wilson's book, "a tree whose bark is worse than its bite" (a stick picture of a dog).
6. (Original post by TenOfThem)

I do Level 2 FM with the top set (about 8%) but mainly because it develops their ability to use what they are learning (with a few additional topics)

It would be far better to have the top 25-33% confident users of the GCSE syllabus rather than worry about adding much more - 6 units of maths that is currently A Level
So it would be an extended form of that with much more AS content. At the moment, isn't it a bit sidelined as it's often taught in Y11 in 60 or so hours? For top pupils, who are bored of quadratics and loci and even completing the square no matter how many applications and contexts are brought in, shouldn't something like this form the basis of their curriculum?

Even if students in the top quartile walked out with an E, it would surely be respected as it would suggest they could have got a C minimum later on; for those attaining Bs/As, it would suggest they could perform higher than the current A/A*: such stretching is incredibly important to prevent stagnation of progress.
7. Spent the better part of the last half an hour reading up on this

I'm happy for the changes (and know the person who pushed for decision to be removed for the reasons mentioned). I think it will get students to really think a bit more and remove the whole "route learning" element to A Level maths (and FM to an extent). In addition, I think it will allow for some more creativity. I remember back in school when I approached a problem if my teacher didn't know the method they literally would tell me it's wrong and do the method in the book. This new system could eliminate that. In addition, with the removal of January exams I think this would work much better. It will allow ideas to develop and connect better and avoid having students with 9+ exams.

Some people are complaining about the removal of additional further maths. I don't think it's a bad thing as long as this curriculum really has this further material enriched into it and thank god for centralising exam boards! Having students saying that they want to take Edexcel because it's the "easy" exam board can make teaching sessions a pain sometimes
8. (Original post by Slowbro93)
Spent the better part of the last half an hour reading up on this

I'm happy for the changes (and know the person who pushed for decision to be removed for the reasons mentioned). I think it will get students to really think a bit more and remove the whole "route learning" element to A Level maths (and FM to an extent). In addition, I think it will allow for some more creativity. I remember back in school when I approached a problem if my teacher didn't know the method they literally would tell me it's wrong and do the method in the book. This new system could eliminate that. In addition, with the removal of January exams I think this would work much better. It will allow ideas to develop and connect better and avoid having students with 9+ exams.

Some people are complaining about the removal of additional further maths. I don't think it's a bad thing as long as this curriculum really has this further material enriched into it and thank god for centralising exam boards! Having students saying that they want to take Edexcel because it's the "easy" exam board can make teaching sessions a pain sometimes
thanks for that interesting post. could you say what will be the implications for the MEI board ? are they likely to survive as a separate provider ?
9. (Original post by PhysicsKid)
So it would be an extended form of that with much more AS content. At the moment, isn't it a bit sidelined as it's often taught in Y11 in 60 or so hours? For top pupils, who are bored of quadratics and loci and even completing the square no matter how many applications and contexts are brought in, shouldn't something like this form the basis of their curriculum?

Even if students in the top quartile walked out with an E, it would surely be respected as it would suggest they could have got a C minimum later on; for those attaining Bs/As, it would suggest they could perform higher than the current A/A*: such stretching is incredibly important to prevent stagnation of progress.
In 2013 4.9% of students achieved an A* in GCSE maths with a further 9.4% achieving a grade A

This means that 95%+ of the cohort understood less than 80% of the current GCSE and 86% understood less than 2/3 of the content

They need better teaching of the basics before we look at increasing the content dramatically
10. (Original post by the bear)
thanks for that interesting post. could you say what will be the implications for the MEI board ? are they likely to survive as a separate provider ?
From reading this report, I suspect not however we just have to wait and see

Also, like the introduction of predator prey models
11. (Original post by Slowbro93)
From reading this report, I suspect not however we just have to wait and see
MEI's income is not dependent on A Level mathematics (and there is no reason to believe they won't be a big player for the new A Level anyway). They are contracted to run the Further Maths Support Programme and raked in a tidy few million for developing Gower's ideas into the Critical Maths element of the new Core Maths qualification. You don't need to fear for their future!
12. (Original post by Mr M)
MEI's income is not dependent on A Level mathematics (and there is no reason to believe they won't be a big player for the new A Level anyway). They are contracted to run the Further Maths Support Group and raked in a tidy few million for developing Gower's ideas into the Critical Maths element of the new Core Maths qualification. You don't need to fear for their future!
*mind put to ease*
13. (Original post by davros)
Well I think "our" Middle School was ahead of the other feeder Middle School by quite a way I seem to remember when we moved up to High School (we were obviously in the posher area of town!!)

A friend of mine sheared a sheep in one of our early O level lessons at high school when we were about 14 - he drew a picture of a sheep on graph paper and applied a shear to it! This is the sort of fun element that seems sadly lacking from GCSE now.
My lessons were always quite good like that, but the Maths was no way near that level, even at age 16! The units I suggested cover really all the areas that used to be covered: basic calculus, stats/mech, complex numbers, matrices etc, so if a modest percentage of young students in the pass could do it, why only a miniscule number now?

I would really love for the algebraic/formulaic basis to Physics to go: differential equations for decay scenarios, integration for graph areas, I mean M3 covers kinematics and simple harmonic motion much more thoroughly, and not just mathematically, than the A2 Physics course. What's going on???

I'd recommend something like this for the sciences to help redress this. If you want to do Biology or Psychology to AS, you must do Maths to AS or above, for A2, you must do Maths A2. For Chemistry AS, you must do Maths A2, for Chemistry A2, AS FM as well. For Physics AS, you must do the same as for Chemistry A2, for Physics A2, you must do A2 FM. This would also mean imposing high levels of Maths in Physics wouldn't appear as harsh due to high Maths requirements for even the 'softer' sciences.
14. (Original post by PhysicsKid)
I'd recommend something like this for the sciences to help redress this. If you want to do Biology or Psychology to AS, you must do Maths to AS or above, for A2, you must do Maths A2. For Chemistry AS, you must do Maths A2, for Chemistry A2, AS FM as well. For Physics AS, you must do the same as for Chemistry A2, for Physics A2, you must do A2 FM. This would also mean imposing high levels of Maths in Physics wouldn't appear as harsh due to high Maths requirements for even the 'softer' sciences.
Good plan if you are hoping to increase the numbers studying humanities and the arts.
15. (Original post by Mr M)
MEI's income is not dependent on A Level mathematics (and there is no reason to believe they won't be a big player for the new A Level anyway). They are contracted to run the Further Maths Support Programme and raked in a tidy few million for developing Gower's ideas into the Critical Maths element of the new Core Maths qualification. You don't need to fear for their future!
thanks for that informative post Mr M ! I'm glad that their hard work will be recognized.

*for those who are interested here is a potted history of MEI:

http://www.mei.org.uk/history
16. (Original post by TenOfThem)
In 2013 4.9% of students achieved an A* in GCSE maths with a further 9.4% achieving a grade A

This means that 95%+ of the cohort understood less than 80% of the current GCSE and 86% understood less than 2/3 of the content

They need better teaching of the basics before we look at increasing the content dramatically
Hmm. Thanks for that. Is there much variation between boards, because I expected that to be higher?

A good way to do that is perhaps to bring back the 3 tier system, except with grade ranges of A*-A, B-C, D-E and F/G becoming Entry Levels 4 and 5. You would sit 2 tiers in case you failed the higher one due to no overlap, and would need 50%ish for the lower grade, 75%+ for the higher grade.

It seems nonsensical to me that you can get a C for 80%ish at Foundation while answering, according to the syllabus, mostly F/E/D questions and also for 30%(!) at Higher. There is also a huge gap at A/A* range of about 20%- 60% on a Higher paper doesn't suggest your pure skills are good, more that you rely on a core of knowledge from KS3, so how can that merit an A?

If anything, people would have to work harder and push themselves and would not get an unrealistic idea of their suitability for AS, even when many A/A* topics overflow into it to compensate.
17. (Original post by PhysicsKid)
My lessons were always quite good like that, but the Maths was no way near that level, even at age 16! The units I suggested cover really all the areas that used to be covered: basic calculus, stats/mech, complex numbers, matrices etc, so if a modest percentage of young students in the pass could do it, why only a miniscule number now?

I would really love for the algebraic/formulaic basis to Physics to go: differential equations for decay scenarios, integration for graph areas, I mean M3 covers kinematics and simple harmonic motion much more thoroughly, and not just mathematically, than the A2 Physics course. What's going on???

I'd recommend something like this for the sciences to help redress this. If you want to do Biology or Psychology to AS, you must do Maths to AS or above, for A2, you must do Maths A2. For Chemistry AS, you must do Maths A2, for Chemistry A2, AS FM as well. For Physics AS, you must do the same as for Chemistry A2, for Physics A2, you must do A2 FM. This would also mean imposing high levels of Maths in Physics wouldn't appear as harsh due to high Maths requirements for even the 'softer' sciences.
Whilst I like this idea, you run into the problem of having schools suffering from logistic issues especially with the idea of FM. I went to a school were I was the first person to take the full A Level of FM (mostly self taught) and the demand isn't too great. In addition, you find that there's only so much theory that you can do without avoiding maths. Take physics for example. You get to university level and you find that a lot of students struggle with the maths element of the course and it's because they did everything they could to avoid the "manipulation" element of the course. Plus it shows that you know how to apply your maths well
18. (Original post by Mr M)
Good plan if you are hoping to increase the numbers studying humanities and the arts.
Unfortunately, Biology and Psychology are already seen as humanities or 'easy' options when they should be far from it if done properly. I suppose it depends whether you think C/B students should be able to progress to A Level- few people are actually considering their suitability for courses.

If the sciences are so loved, making Maths a compulsory partner *should* increase Maths uptake, but of course there are BTEC/NVQ Level 3-4+ qualifications that could be taken instead. Not everyone going to college needs to take academic qualifications.
19. (Original post by Slowbro93)
Whilst I like this idea, you run into the problem of having schools suffering from logistic issues especially with the idea of FM. I went to a school were I was the first person to take the full A Level of FM (mostly self taught) and the demand isn't too great. In addition, you find that there's only so much theory that you can do without avoiding maths. Take physics for example. You get to university level and you find that a lot of students struggle with the maths element of the course and it's because they did everything they could to avoid the "manipulation" element of the course. Plus it shows that you know how to apply your maths well
We need to fully invest in this area imo and create an urgent action plan. To counter drifts to the humanities/arts as Mr M suggests, maybe we could have halved fees for STEM courses. Sad that it agains comes down to financial incentive, but it could be an efficient safeguard.
20. (Original post by PhysicsKid)
We need to fully invest in this area imo and create an urgent action plan. To counter drifts to the humanities/arts as Mr M suggests, maybe we could have halved fees for STEM courses. Sad that it agains comes down to financial incentive, but it could be an efficient safeguard.
Yes however you'll essentially alienate a massive group of students. Let's take biology for example. There's only so much maths you can include before you end up in the situation of needing some serious understanding of differential equations (systems is what comes to mind). This wouldn't be covered till FM at least. The same goes for psychology. You need a good understanding of statistics so the option should be there for maths but making it compulsory for A Level could have a serious knock on effect up to university level.

In addition, I remember taking biology A Level. It was the hardest thing I took at A Level and dropped it the moment I could!

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