Bath and Cheltenham regular problem-solving classes

Thursday 9th December 2021

The Year 13 Regular Problem Solving classes have run in Bath and Cheltenham in some form or another for nearly 10 years. In that time, the Further Maths Support Programme (FMSP) has become the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme (AMSP), the admissions test landscape has changed with the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA) coming into existence and STEP 1 is no more and, of course, we’ve had to learn how to teach online!

The classes have always been well-received by those attending, but after running the Bath and Cheltenham sessions jointly online in 2020-21 there was the opportunity to make some changes for 2021-22. The rise of TMUA and the demise of STEP 1 means there is an increased shift in the number of students who are preparing for admissions tests in the autumn, and so the classes had a first phase with six weekly sessions through September and October to help students to develop their problem solving or starting work towards STEP, but being particularly helpful for those preparing for MAT and TMUA. This first phase concluded with a sixth session that focused on discussing maths problems – verbalising thought processes and listening to others, as students start to prepare for interviews they may have.

One thing that was noted by the tutors this year was how well the students worked together. Alan Theobald, tutor for the Bath sessions, said “It was wonderful to also see most students want to move around and work with different people in different weeks.” Andrew Sainsbury, tutor for the Cheltenham sessions, said, “I think the thing which has stood out is how well people have worked collaboratively this year – I do wonder if there's a post-lockdown pent up need to talk about maths with others.” Dan, a Year 13 student, said of the course, "The AMSP course provided me with brilliant preparation for my TMUA test whilst also being very enjoyable and interesting.

After a short break, the second phase, comprising a further six sessions, will start in February 2022. Again, the sessions will support students to develop their mathematical problem-solving skills, and also by this time students will have an idea if they might need STEP for any offers they have. Students from state-funded schools and colleges who are interested can sign up for the Bath and Cheltenham sessions on the AMSP website.

By Pat Cobb

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