Easter 2016 – First Steps in teaching Core Maths

July 2016

In February 2016, the year 11 cohort attended a “day in the life of a sixth former”. This provided an opportunity to discuss the new course with prospective students, and a lot of interest was generated.  It was decided that the course would definitely go ahead.

As a school we need to start planning for the September 2016 cohort. Our SCITT trainee is very keen to get involved with the new course, however we haven’t had a second teacher offer to take the Core Maths class. My line manager has said it will need to fall on my shoulders; after an evening of stressing, I’ve realised that as KS5 co-ordinator, it should be me.

We are also struggling to decide which course will best fit our students. Any school/college I’ve found who is offering Core Maths seems to have gone for the AQA syllabus. When pressed on the reason behind this decision, the most common responses were:

  • They were the first exam board who got their specification and course material ready.
  • There was a freedom of choice in the second paper for teacher to choose a module which suited their skills set.

However, now ALL exam boards have their specifications ready, so I can make an informed decision compared to two years ago. I am aware that I want to choose a course that best suits the students’ skills set (i.e. other A level choices), not necessarily my own. As such I feel we need a generic Core Maths syllabus, with no optional components, to ensure that we give all students in our first cohort a balanced course, instead of tailoring a course to some individuals – but not to others.

Decision made! We are going for Edexcel’s Level 3 Mathematics in Context. It is a 12 unit course covering application of maths to topics such as Social Networking, Disasters, Finance, Clothing – i.e. a hugely broad set of topics, and I can sense already that students are going to be able to buy into this course (unlike the traditional AS-Maths course and topics such as quadratic inequalities, or trigonometric identities!). I envisage that we could offer this course for two years (possibly 3?), and once we reach the stage of having several Core Maths classes, we can then maybe switch to the AQA course, and choose a course with an optional component so that students can select an option best suited to their other A-level choices.

Myself and our NQT have decided we’ll spend a chunk of the summer break planning some topics. She has opted for Finance and Sport to kick off with in the first half-term with, whilst I’ve chosen Social Networking and Clothing.

I’ll wrap up the summer term notes here. It is August and I am stunned at how long these lessons are taking to plan!! On average three hours each is typical. The content is really interesting, but constructing a series of cohesive lessons to support a topic is proving more time consuming than either of us could have ever imagined. I have to add here that the lessons that I’ve currently planned seem much more engaging than my typical A-level lessons (I’ve got a wealth of experience teaching Mechanics, Statistics, Pure Maths, Further Pure, Decision Maths) – and as such the students are going to get so much out of this course. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we actually get a decent number of students interested in the course to make the time investment given so far justifiable!

Tom Collins from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Guildford and Nicci Bailey from Hook Junior School have been selected to take part in a prestigious teacher exchange, focusing on mathematics,  with a partner school in Shanghai.

Tom and Nicci are among 70 expert mathematics teachers from schools across England taking part in an exchange as part of the Maths Hubs programme. St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Hook Junior School are working with the Surrey Plus Maths Hub.

The purpose of the exchange is to further develop the understanding and implementation of mastery approaches to teaching maths in St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and  Hook Junior School, and in local partner schools that Tom and Nicci will be working with during the school year 2016-17.

This is one part of the Teaching for Mastery Programme, run by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) in conjunction with the Maths Hubs programme.

In July this year, the School Standards Minister, Nick Gibb, announced £41m of funding for the Teaching for Mastery programme over the next four school years.

The group of teachers, all of whom completed the Mastery Specialists programme within their Maths Hubs last year, will be visiting Shanghai in the first half of November this year, and hosting their partner teachers from Shanghai in English schools in late November/early December.

This is the third teacher exchange with schools in Shanghai since the Maths Hubs programme was launched in autumn 2014.

Following the huge success of our Primary Mastery Specialist Teacher Programme, the Maths Hubs are now looking to expand this across to the Secondary phase. In 2016-17, there will be a National Collaborative Project looking to develop a Secondary Mastery Specialist programme following a similar style to our Cohort 2 Primary Specialists.

Every Maths Hub is now looking for between 1 and 4 teachers from different schools to participate in the central Secondary Mastery Specialist development programme. They will receive centralised training from the NCETM, and spend time developing Teaching for Mastery in their own school working with colleagues. During the latter part of the year, the Mastery Specialist teachers will also work with teachers from other schools and begin to set up Teacher Research Groups (TRGs).

Nominated teachers will be expected to have support from their department and a member of SLT. There will be funding for an equivalent of 10.5 days release time in Year 1, and a commitment to continue the programme in Year 2.

Further information and the application document can be found here. Schools are asked to send applications directly to: mathshub@sjb.surrey.sch.uk, and copying in the NCETM, by 14 October 2016.

Surrey Plus Calculation Guidance

This guidance has been developed from the White Rose Calculation Policy working document, which was written as a guide to indicate the progression through Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division in Years 1 – 6.

This guidance is our recommendation, in line with the Surrey Plus Maths Hub Primary Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course content.

We welcome any suggestions to this document and are always looking to refine and improve where possible. We hope you find it useful!

Surrey Plus Maths Hub Team


Now available: Surrey Plus Calculation Guidance