You will know that I am a great fan of the Edexcel Hub Meetings (You don’t have to be an Edexcel centre to attend them and you can find details of the first few meetings this term below and you can also book a place for any of the other meetings – here too)

  • Blackburn | 29 January 2019, 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.  Blackburn Collaborative Maths Network
  • Rugby | 31 January 2019, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  Rugby Collaborative Maths Network
  • Tewkesbury | 4 February 2019, 3:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.  Gloucestershire Collaborative Maths Network 
  • Manchester | 5 February 2019, 09 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Wilmslow/South Manchester Collaborative Maths Network 
  • Cheshire | 5 February 2019, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Widnes/Liverpool Collaborative Maths Network
  • Sheffield | 6 February 2019, 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sheffield Collaborative Maths Network
  • LOADS MORE can be found on the Pearson site!

I genuinely love these meetings because I always come away with an idea or two! One of the best I’ve come across was at the Bristol Free School and I have been busting to share this since I saw it a couple of months ago! … Teresa Robinson, who is the Lead Mathematics Adviser for the Russell Education Trust shared some work that the trust did and also the resources that came out of it and she has kindly agreed to write some blog posts (the first is below and the rest will follow over the next several months so you’ll have to be patient!) By the way I think this work is pretty close to perfection! I’m a tough judge and saying that is almost like a “Hollywood Handshake” (If you don’t watch the Great British Bake Off you won’t get the reference!) .. not that I’m comparing myself to Paul Hollywood or owt! .. Oh balls.. I’ll just quit whilst I’m ahead. 

As Mel once said, “what I am about to share is by no means perfect”.  My aim in sharing these resources is that they will support high quality mathematics teaching across the curriculum, but they are by no means perfect.  The increased pressure to deliver an enhanced curriculum for GCSE (9-1) means that teaching time is even more precious and must be used effectively.  All of the mathematics teachers in the Russell Education Trust (RET) met to discuss and agree a set of consistent mathematical methods which we felt would enable students to retain and build on their prior knowledge and become more confident mathematicians.

The task of agreeing consistent methods was both enlightening and powerful.  Teachers willingly shared and justified their preferred methods, were receptive to alternative approaches and agreements were reached with surprising ease.  It is a task that I would highly recommend to all mathematics departments. Our consistent methods are not set in stone; if a student successfully applies a method previously learnt then they will be encouraged to continue using this approach, similarly, if a student fails to grasp our chosen methods then alternative approaches are considered. 

This summer I attended the subject network meetings across the Trust for science, design and technology, geography, business and computer science, to discuss the mathematical skills required in each subject and to share the agreed consistent methods for teaching mathematics. 

The maths and science teachers across the trust attended a joint INSET session where they completed pairs of GCSE questions on the same topic; one from a GCSE maths paper and the other from a GCSE science paper.  Teachers discussed the similarities and differences, and then identified issues that might arise when teaching these topics.  Maths teachers were surprised by the quantity of maths in the science papers and the science teachers were surprised at where the overlaps were in both subjects.  The questions highlighted the fact that in maths the range is defined as the difference between the largest and the smallest value, and in science it is defined as the interval from the lowest value to the highest value.  When drawing lines of best fit in maths, the points should be evenly distributed along the line and in science the line should pass through as many points as possible.  Science also use curves of best fit.  In science outliers are sometimes referred to as anomalies.  The maths teachers shared how we use bars to illustrate percentage multipliers and how to input fractions, powers, and numbers written in standard form, into the calculator.  There was also a productive discussion about alternative methods to find the area under a curve: counting the squares being an acceptable method in science compared to dividing the area into composite shapes or use of the trapezium rule in maths.  Explicitly talking about these similarities and differences with students in both maths and science lessons will support students to be more successful.

Below you will find the PowerPoint and the worksheets used for the INSET session.

RET Maths and science INSET Oct 2017 (V002) – SLIDES_

RET INSET – Maths and science GCSE questions

I will be sharing some further blogs from Teresa soon and in view of this one being Science based I’ve also attached a copy of the Guide to Maths for GCSE Scientists that Pearson produced that may be useful (hopefully it’s the latest version!) and if nothing else will be great bedtime reading.

Finally, my thanks must go to Teresa and the Russell Education Trust for giving the permission to share this work to the wider maths community. I am really excited about sharing the next posts looking at other subjects too. Thank you!