Core Maths: not just more maths

A part of the mix of Level 3 (post GCSE) maths in many schools and colleges in the country is Core Maths, a new type of course leading to a new qualification, principally aimed at those coming out of Year 11 with a comfortable GCSE pass in maths, but not thinking of doing A level. The rationale is that competence in, and application of, areas of maths more advanced than GCSE – particularly the maths related to life and work – is going to be of great benefit to all those in further and higher education, regardless of academic or career path. In most European countries, it’s taken as read that teenagers carry on with maths of some sort until they’re 18.

First teaching of Core Maths began in autumn 2014 and this summer, a few thousand Year 13 students are becoming the first to sit Core Maths exams.

Here, Bespoke looks at how Core Maths is working, through the eyes of Colin Prestwich, Maths Hubs Lead for Yorkshire Ridings, who also fills the role of Core Maths Lead for the same area within the Core Maths Support Programme (CMSP).

‘We have fully embraced the development of Core Maths here in our region. The head of maths at Harrogate Grammar describes it as the most significant development in Level 3 maths in the last decade.

There are nine schools/colleges in our Maths Hub area actively involved with Core Maths. Six of them have been involved since the outset in 2014 and their students are taking their exam this summer. The others are a year behind. Students want, and are getting something a little different from GCSE, and Core Maths provides that, especially when the personal finance option is fully engaged with. And so far the feedback from students is very positive. One said to me recently: “I now understand how to use the maths I have learned in a useful way”

Next year the Yorkshire Ridings Maths Hub will build on the excellent foundations laid by the Core Maths Support Programme and will continue to work in partnership with them to develop further the reach of the qualification and also in scaling up of numbers of participating students.

Through peer observations, adopting a TRG model of teacher collaboration and students days at the National Stem Centre York (STEM) we have been actively involved in developing effective teaching and learning strategies to promote deep understanding, student confidence and enjoyment. The Maths Hub is also playing a significant role in joining up the entire Level 3 maths curriculum spectrum. We’re in the process of setting up greater coordination between everyone involved in leading and teaching A levels and Core Maths qualifications. This involves working closely together with colleagues in the Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP) as well as the CMSP.

We feel that all post 16 Level 3 students deserve an opportunity to develop, deepen and extend their maths learning and Core Maths provides an excellent way to do this. The question that remains is not why you should offer Core Maths but how can you afford not to?’