I like to think I’m quite pragmatic about the big things that are on their way in terms of maths teaching; it’s just the little stupid things in life I kick off about! but in the main I sit back and reflect before deciding what to do. I also like to make sure that I have all the facts to hand before acting or making a decision, and I’ve noticed quite a bit of viral panicking on twitter, where people are whooping up a frenzy, about the lack of information in relation to the forthcoming issues. This particularly smacks me as being quite mercenary when some of it is being driven by proper commercial organisations (we’re only playing at it, as our main focus is and always will be our day jobs!), so last night I started to compose this  very, very, very long detailed post to collate the latest information (as of today, and as we know its a shifting landscape we work in!) with regards the GCSE in Maths. So read it, digest it … stop … think. Whatever you do, don’t panic … we are all in this together and it will be fine.

So … this is the first of two posts summarising the changes to GCSE maths – and focusses on the general changes and hopefully answers some of your questions:


  • June/July 2014 – Many exam boards are aiming for draft specs and sample assessment materials to be available for evaluation and feedback. Get on any mailing list you can for updates!  
  • Sept 2014 – lots of schools will be starting to teach year 9’s GCSE content (they are the first to be examined). There are lots of teachers working on this as we speak!
  • Oct/Nov 2014 – Target date for exam boards to gain accreditation for their specific Maths GCSE
  • Spring 2015 – I would imagine many exam boards would have a range of support material available about this time.
  • Sept 2015 – Some schools will start to teach their, then year 10’s GCSE content (if they are aiming for a 2 year course).


  • There is no doubt that the new Maths GCSE will require greater teaching time. We have spoken to so many schools who are planning on introducing an extra hour per fortnight as a minimum from September 2014 (and possibly increasing the following year). This is being done on the basis that the new year 9 won’t have previously covered come of the content in previous key stages and we’re playing a sort of “catch up” game. Additionally Maths will soon be double weighted in the league tables so the extra curriculum time can be justified to governing bodies and SLT.
  • Potentially we are looking at greater examination time (none of the exam boards have had their GCSEs accredited so this is still to be confirmed!). There is talk of 4.5 hours (and possibly more) for the higher tier. Get used to the idea!
  • There is potentially a change to the number of exam papers – it could be two or three papers … again still to be confirmed.
  • There is a requirement to assess maths with and without a calculator. The technical spec exam boards are working on suggests a split of between 25% and 50%, but most of them are working to a split of between 33% and 50%  of calculator use – the final outcome of this is still to be confirmed.
  • A new grading system is being introduced from a U, through grades 1 to 9 (with 9 being the highest attainable). Information about what is equivalent to an A, B, C etc (i.e. grade equivalencies) has yet to be published by the DFE) – it was originally mooted that this would be published in Spring 2014, but I suspect this will be done Summer 2014.
  • Tiering will remain as Higher and Foundation. Foundation will give access to grades 1 to 5 and the Higher tier will be grades 4 to 9 (grades 4 and 5 will be the overlap grades).
  • Changes to the formula sheet given at the front of the exam papers are being made – students will need to recall:
    • area of a trapezium, volume of a prism, quadratic formula (higher tier) and triangle sine, cosine and area rules (higher tier)

New assessment objectives

  • AO1: Use and apply standard techniques, which is similar to the current AO1 – it will make up 40% of the marks on the Higher tier and 50% on Foundation. This has been done to recognise the fact that foundation tier students should have a greater weighting than higher tier students on this AO.
  • AO2: Reason, interpret and communicate mathematically. This will make up 25% of the marks on foundation and 30% on the higher tier.
  • AO3: This is all about solving problems. There will be a much greater focus on non-routine problems (in both a mathematical and non mathematical context). This will make up 25% of the marks on Foundation and 30% on the Higher tier.

Basically we are looking at exams with more emphasis on problem-solving,  communication, proof, and interpretation. It is important to note that the identification of QWC with a * will probably disappear.

I will post later with a definitive list of content changes … i.e. what’s in, what’s out and what’s been shaken all about (moved from Higher to Foundation and vice versa!)