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Critical analysis: Marcus Rashford’s book club

If you teach Core Maths then you either have heard of Quibans by Mark Dawes or you should have done. If not, go and take a look now!

I was looking to use a similar idea but while also bringing more relevant and useful maths to my year 10 class who are taking the Foundation tier of GCSE maths. Here’s my attempt and think that by the nature of the possible discussions, it will be appropriate for Core Maths too. I hope it’s of use to you!

Marcus Rashford: Footballer to launch a book club to help kids

Marcus Rashford is launching a book club in June.

The England and Manchester United striker says he wants to encourage children from disadvantaged backgrounds to find the joy in reading.

He has teamed up with Macmillan Children’s Books, which has donated 50,000 books for kids to take home and keep.

The book club will work closely with 850 primary schools across England and Scotland, which are supported by the food charity Magic Breakfast.

Rachael Anderson, head of schools at Magic Breakfast, which offers healthy breakfasts to around 170,000 children every school day said: “We know children at our partner schools will be delighted to have a Marcus Book Club book of their own to take home and keep, and this will help inspire a new generation of children to discover the joy of reading.”

Across the UK there are children who don’t have access to books at home because some families cannot afford to buy them.

In 2019, the National Literacy Trust found that that 383,775 children do not own a single book.

This can have a huge impact on children’s learning.

“For too long, the joy of reading has been restricted by whether or not a family has the contingency budget to purchase books. The children who often miss out are those on free school meals and users of breakfast clubs, who more than likely need fiction, and non-fiction, to escape reality from time to time. We haven’t been affording these children the option of reading for fun, but that changes today.”

Marcus Rashford MBE

The first book club read will be “A Dinosaur Ate My Sister” by Pooja Puri.

Rashford himself will be publishing his own children’s book in late May called You Are A Champion: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice And Be The BEST You Can Be which is aimed at children aged 10 and over.


  1. Look at the numbers that are mentioned. Which are exact and which are rounded?
  2. Is 50,000 books a lot? If they are split between the 850 primary schools mentioned later in the article, how many books might that be per child?
  3. What is a reasonable estimate for the cost of those 50,000 books?
  4. Do we know which countries the 383,775 children are living in?
  5. When the article says “338,775 children”, what do you think the age range is that are included?
  6. How many primary school children do you think there might be in the UK?
  7. What percentage of primary school students are offered a Magic Breakfast?
  8. The big question: Do you think this scheme will “have a huge impact on children’s learning”?


Finance revision – National Insurance and Tax

Hello everyone. Things are a bit strange at the moment for Core Maths and there’s a strong chance that you’re preparing for assessments of some sort over the next few weeks. One of the topics that my students need to revise is Income Tax and National Insurance and, while I could just use the questions from first time round I thought I’d make some more.

There’s nothing particularly fancy about them but they’re increasing in difficulty as you go through.

Feel free to use as you wish and let me know if you find any errors!

Core Maths Assessment – Correlation and Regression

I recently made some assessments that used mail merge to give slightly different questions to students while still making it not too unreasonable to mark.

I’ve just made another set for correlation and regression. I can’t take credit for the questions themselves as I’ve borrowed the main ideas from somewhere else (source forgotten I’m afraid).

You can check out the instructions for how to get it to work from the previous assessment post. Again, if you’re familiar with mail merge, you can probably just work it out.

You’ll need to download both of those files before opening the word document. As an added bonus this time, I’ve put together an attempt at a mark scheme.

It was quite difficult to get this all to work so I hope it’s worthwhile!

Core Maths Assessment – Tax and NI

I’ve written Tax and National Insurance mini-assessment with the twist of being individualised for each student (to help prevent cheating).

You need to download both the files first. This uses mailmerge so, if you’re familiar with that you should be fine!

When you open the Word file, it will ask you to select the recipients for the mailmerge. (If prompted, choose “an existing list”.)

Find the place you saved the Excel file and choose open.

It will assume you want sheet 1 so just press OK.

Now, in the mailings tab, choose finish and merge, edit individual documents.

Choose From 1 to *the number of students you teach* then press OK

Finally, choose, Save As and save as a pdf with a suitable name.

Upload this to the place your students can get to the work and give them explicit instructions to complete the sheet number you say. Something like:

Barry – do sheet 1

Martha – do sheet 2

Vijay – do sheet 3


The Excel sheet has the ‘answers’ in it so you can see what the students should be getting. I am only treating this as a mini-assessment so will use my judgment when awarding marks . Q2 is based heavily on the AQA Specimen paper, Q3 if you want to use that mark scheme as a guide.

Hopefully that’s of use – let me know if you think of any clever adaptations!

AER – Videos and 2 work sheets (with answers)

I’ve been working my way through some finance material and, due to lockdown, thought it was easier to have videos. Here they are along with some worksheets. Feel free to link them to wherever you’re setting your work.

Nominal Interest rate

AER – what is it and how to calculate

AER – worked example of an exam-style question

AER – true or false statements

AER – a deposit for a house

AER – in reverse – challenging!

Hopefully that little lot is of use to you!

Income Tax and National Insurance questions (2020-2021)

This is just a simple set of questions with varying levels of difficulty. I’ve slightly adapted two old past paper questions to go with 5 I’ve made up. There’s nothing particularly special about the questions but they are up to date and just provide more practice.

Answers are included!

Mortgage calculations

In the most recent Core Maths exam for AQA, they made use of a scary-looking mortgage repayment formula.

Now, I don’t think it’s really that bad but it is a challenging substitution formula for anyone that isn’t very confident with maths. It’s also a fair bit of a challenge to be able to use a calculator correctly with a formula as complex as that one.

I think that future exams may make use of other complex looking financial formulae so I’ll try to see what else is out there as possible candidates. While I don’t think that AQA will be using this particular formula again any time soon, I have written a few questions that you might like to use so that students can (hopefully) become less fearful of complicated substitutions. (Both files are the same, just different formats.)

Do let me know if these are any use and if you find some other financial formula candidates!

Critical Analysis – Claims about France

In my scheme of work for Core Maths, I have a two week slot near the end for Critical Analysis. My original thinking was that I’d use the preliminary material as the catalyst since the questions are most likely to be about them anyway.

I was hoping/intending to weave some critical analysis throughout the course and that’s one of my main aims for this year. We’re working on estimation at the moment and this leaflet came in a gift box I received.

I think that points 4 and 10 both have opportunities for fact checking. 4 seems intuitively unlikely to me but I’d like to know more. 10 sounds believable but I think there’s something about “well, how many would that be per day?” That could help check its validity. Seems like a useful skill to develop for helping with newspaper headings.

I can’t quite put my finger on why these feel like they belong in the estimation section of my SoW but that’s where they’re going.

Do share your own critical analysis activities please!

Back to School – The New Normal

My school started back last week:

  • Tues was Inset
  • Weds we had just year 7 and 12 in
  • Thursday was years 7, 11, 12 and 13
  • Friday was with everyone.

There were clearly quite a lot of nervous people, both staff and students, and a fair bit of uncertainty around some things but that was to be expected and I think can only really be found out when things actually start.

While I’m not a fan of the phrase “The New Normal”, I can tell you that I found that most things really were surprisingly close to “The Old Normal”. Aside from some extra hand sanitising on the way in and out of classrooms the actual lessons felt pretty normal to me. I tried to just get on an do some maths with my classes and honestly, it felt a lot like back to being an “Old, Normal Teacher”.

If you’re worried about all the rules at your school, I’m going to tentatively suggest to you – don’t worry, things will be fine!

Core Maths lesson 1 – September 2020

Hi everyone and welcome back to my blog.

What a year eh? Let’s not dwell on that and get in to some nice Core Maths work. This post has what I’m intending to use with my classes (and for the first time I have a second teacher with a class).

I’ve chosen to use the Corona virus as the theme for the first lesson. Here are my reasons:

  • I think that to ignore it would feel weird
  • I’ve picked some aspects that are relatively light hearted (to avoid issue of students that have suffered losses)
  • I normally launch straight into the course but there are always students that chop and change subjects. These are a nice couple of activities that aren’t vital if they’re missed!

The lesson uses hand sanitiser to have a quick ‘which is best value’ question and also introduce that massive Core Maths aspect of , “Well, it kind of depends what you mean…”

I’ve also looked at toilet roll because it was such a massive issue and there’s some good maths to be had there. You could, of course, use Mark’s QUIBANs on it if you like.

As ever, please use and adapt as you wish. If you have better ideas that I can use then please share.

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