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Core maths – the second year

September 7, 2019

Happy New (School) Year!

I’m sure the start of a new year has been its usual mix of exciting/challenging/exhausting for you all and it certainly has been for me too. I’m trying really hard to plan my lessons further ahead this year and as this is my second year of Core Maths, I’m very pleased to have a stronger starting point. This post will reflect a little on my last year and look ahead to the coming year too.


Core Maths entries rose from just under 7000 to over 9000 last year (MEI summary here) which is a strong indicator of its growing success. It’s no secret that I think it’s an excellent course and one that’s well worth taking regardless of the examination outcome. Having said that, I did have students taking the exam last year and these were my students’ results:

Grade Freq
A 7
B 3
C 5
D 4
E 4
U 7
Total 30

I’m definitely relieved that I’ve done enough to give students the chance to get A grades and while I’m not happy with the number of U grades I think that overall, there’s a lot to celebrate. I’ve got the question-by-question break down for each student and I’ll spend some time looking for any areas that I seem to have taught particularly well or otherwise.


I am very fortunate that the leadership team of my sixth form are good at mentioning Core Maths to students as they’re interviewing them and are proactive about encouraging anyone taking A levels where the course would benefit them to take it. This year we have three classes timetabled and I am even more fortunate to be teaching all of them!

In the start of year assembly for Year 12s, I asked to have a couple of slides in and I had a two minute talk reminding people to think about taking it if they hadn’t already. I explicitly said the it is for anyone with a GCSE grade from 9 to 4 because I don’t want them to think it’s ‘easier’ maths only for people with 4s and 5s. There’s still some work to be done on ‘mopping up’ some students that probably should be taking it but currently aren’t for some reason.

Key foci for the coming year

Grade 4 intervention/support

I know that my grade 4 students need more help, especially those coming from Foundation tier. Here’s a scatter graph of my students’ GCSE and Core Maths grades:

GCSE to Core Maths results 2019

I’ve given the grades a ‘jitter’* to help them show the trend better. I haven’t fully thought this through but I am going to make sure I offer them additional opportunities to see things like histograms and also just more 1-to-1 time on anything they need help with.


I tried to set too much homework that became quickly unmanageable to deal with both in terms of marking and keeping track of who had done it. I’m going to slim it back to fewer, higher quality/longer homeworks and I may well use homework books to be more in line with how we deal with homework in our A level classes. I have decided/realised that they do not need homework every lesson.

Statistics, graphs and charts

This topic sticks in my mind as the one that I delivered least well. I still don’t have the answer to it yet but I will be calling on the #CoreMaths hashtag for help and suggestions.

Other bits and pieces

If you’re new to my blog, it’s possible that you may not know that I have some resources on TES (which I’ll continue to redevelop this year) and that I also host a maths podcast called Wrong, but Useful in which I invariably end up mentioning Core Maths.

Over the Summer, I was pleased to be involved in beginning to write resources for the Integral Maths site and I believe my first one is up. You have to register with the site to get access but (and I know this is arrogant) the Fermi Estimation resource I’ve written is easily some of my best work and I really do think that if you download it, you will find at least one thing you want to use.

An idea for a lesson

I think that a lot of the people that read my blog do so mainly for useful lesson ideas. This post hasn’t had any yet (although you could probably do something with that scatter graph). Here’s just a quick idea/prompt for you so you don’t go away empty handed:

Claire’s accessories have been piercing ears for 40 years. Does the following claim seem believable? Can you do a ‘Back of an Envelope’ estimate to validate your decision?

img 8101 1


As ever, if you have any questions or comments, please do leave them below.

*I learned about adding in a ‘jitter’ to separate the points from David Spiegelhalter’s book The Art of Statistics

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