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This case study explores how Cardinal Newman College is increasing participation in level 3 maths and teaching Core Maths with a mixed-subject team. How we supported its increase in students studying level 3 maths following the introduction of Core Maths. As well as its sustained recruitment to A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

About Cardinal Newman College

Cardinal Newman College is a 16-18 sixth-form college located in Preston, Lancashire. Approximately 3500 students attend the College. It is a Lead School for the new Abacus NW Maths Hub in partnership with Our Lady’s Catholic High School, Preston. The hub aims to help schools and colleges lead improvement in maths education in central Lancashire.

The College offers a wide range of A level subjects alongside vocational qualifications. These options include well-established A levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Statistics, and new provisions for Core Maths.

Key successes for the maths team have been the sustained recruitment to level 3 maths courses at A level and the introduction of Core Maths provision. In 2017-18 the College’s total entry for level 3 maths was 996; in 2018-19, it rose to 1218.

What Cardinal Newman College is doing to support A level Mathematics

The numbers of students studying A level Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Statistics courses at the College have been consistent over recent years. When Core Maths was introduced in 2018-19, 199 students enrolled on the course. This resulted in a significant increase in the number of students studying level 3 maths, and as a result, the College received £186,000 additional funding in the 16-19 allocation for 2019-20 through the Advanced Maths Premium.

Cardinal Newman College

Age Range: 16 -18


A level Mathematics

A level Further Mathematics

Core Maths

What Cardinal Newman College is doing to support A level Further Mathematics

Further maths students are taught alongside A level math students. The further maths students then separate classes for further mathematics content. This helps the single A level Mathematics students to ‘raise their game’. In most cases, further maths is taken as a four A level subject programme, and students take AS Further Mathematics at the end of Year 12. Some Year 12 students then decide not to continue with Further Mathematics in Year 13, but they have achieved an AS qualification. A level Mathematics students have the option to study AS Further Mathematics in Year 13.

What Cardinal Newman College is doing to support Core Maths

The sixth form enrolment team targets students taking Business, Geography, Psychology or Science, encouraging them to take Core Maths. They advocate the benefit of the course in supporting these other subjects and complementing the maths incorporated in them. This has increased the number of students participating in a level 3 maths course who would not have done so in previous years. The College believes that one reason behind the successful recruitment to Core Maths has been the involvement of teachers of Business, Geography and Science. These teachers, alongside maths specialists, are responsible for teaching the Core Maths course. The AMSP has provided professional development for teachers at the College to help introduce and develop the teaching of Core Maths.

Core Maths is usually studied in one year (usually Year 12). The entry requirement is GCSE Mathematics grade 5. Students are split into three strands depending on their programme of study – Social Sciences, Business & ICT or Science. In this way, the Core Maths course supports their study in other subjects, and their other subjects also support learning in Core Maths. The fact that students can complete the course in one year, together with the support it offers for their other subjects, are the major reasons the College has attracted so many students to take Core Maths (approximately 200 in 2018-19 and a similar number in 2019-20).  

More than half the number of students taking Core Maths in 2018-19 were female. As a result of introducing Core Maths, the overall proportion of female students studying level 3 maths increased.

The success of the college

There is a consistency of approach to maths teaching across the department. All students follow the same scheme of work and complete the same assessments at the same time. There is a common workbook that is supplemented with teachers’ own resources. Each class will typically be taught by one teacher during the year; this helps teachers build a relationship with their students and aids accountability.

Typically, a full-time teacher teaches four classes. They have no other responsibilities, such as being a personal tutor. Each teacher has time built into their timetable for student curriculum support activities such as one-to-ones, small group work, revision sessions, etc. Lessons start at 9:20 and finish at 3:40, so many subjects organise their curriculum support to take place before the start of the day or at the end of the day.

The College engages with the AMSP, working closely with the local Area Coordinator. Students and teachers have attended AMSP Year 12 and Year 13 Problem Solving Conferences, and maths A level students have received support in preparing for university mathematics entrance tests through the

Level 3 maths courses offered

YearCoursesTeaching time per weekGCSE grade requirements
12 A level Mathematics4 hours 40 minGCSE Mathematics grade 6 or above
12A level Further Mathematics4 hours 40 minGCSE Mathematics grade 7 or above
12A level Statistics4 hours 40 minGCSE Mathematics grade 5 or above and GCSE English grade 5 or above
12Core Maths4 hours 20 minGCSE Mathematics grade 5 or above
13A level Mathematics4 hours 40 min
13A level Further Mathematics4 hours 40 min
13A level Statistics4 hours 40 min

Curriculum Structure

Students following an A level route typically take three A level subjects over two years. Students studying further maths are encouraged to take four A level subjects.

Core Maths is run as a one-year course. At the end of Year 12, if individual students are not ready for the exam, they can wait and take it at the end of Year 13.

Further Mathematics students sit the AS Further Mathematics examination at the end of Year 12. Some students then stop with an AS qualification, and others continue into Year 13 for the full A level.

A levels are taught in four 70 min lessons per week (4 hours 40 min per week). There are no double lessons (i.e. two 70-minute lessons in a row).

Find out more about A level Mathematics click here. To find out more about A level Further Mathematics, click here.

“It was the long held belief that non A level maths students studying a subject with a mathematical element were at a disadvantage. Core Maths serves these students well and it gives them a L3 maths qualification which will always have value.”

Paul Vaughan
Deputy Principal, Cardinal Newman College

Find out more about A level Mathematics click here. To find out more about Core Maths click here.

More advice

The following resources and pages offer further advice about increasing participation in level 3 maths and teaching Core Maths:

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