Next steps with your Core Maths class

Thursday 25th March 2021

Following the release of the outcomes of the consultation of the awarding of grades, Core Maths teachers must decide on their next steps now that they're back in the classroom. With it unnecessary to complete the content from an assessment point of view, first they will need to decide whether they should continue to teach the content (if they’ve not yet covered it all) or focus on revision of covered content. With no May examination dates, teachers have extended time in the classroom with students to utilise and may feel they are able to cover all areas of the specification, leaving enough time for students to secure their knowledge. Choosing the latter option will mean omitting areas of the course so students will not benefit from the full experience of Core Maths. However, it may mean that students benefit from a more enriching education with teachers able to focus on a smaller number of topics, diving deeper into the uses of each topic, something that follows the ethos of Core Maths.

At some point, it will be necessary for teachers to start collating evidence to support their awarding of grades and there are some different options open for teachers to utilise. The first port of call will be the use of past papers. AQA, Edexcel and OCR will all have papers available from each year from 2016 onwards, each with their own mark schemes, grade boundaries and examiner reports. Experienced teachers will be well rehearsed with using these papers whereas new teachers to Core Maths may need to learn the ropes of how to mark some of the open-ended, high mark examination questions. There are also additional specimen and practise papers that students could do, although these do not come with grade boundaries. The issue is that these papers are regularly available to students on the internet and therefore there may be concern that a student’s work may not be reflective of their ability. Therefore, teachers may consider mixing up questions from different years’ papers, or even from different exam boards if appropriate. Of course, this may then lead to difficulties with awarding appropriate grade boundaries to a paper. Alternatively, past exam questions can be altered so that students would have seen the exact same questions as before, although this can be a time-consuming process.

Examination boards are currently producing a package of new materials to support schools with the process of awarding grades for Core Maths students. These may be very welcome and a valuable resource of fresh content to get students working on. However, these materials will be untested on students and may represent a challenge of awarding a grade on, even with guidance offered from the awarding organisations. On top of these, teachers will have class work, homework, and topic assessments to reflect on. Although this work may not have attached grades equivalent to those a Core Maths exam would, nor its experience, it all goes towards building a picture of a student’s profile. Whether you are an experienced or new teacher to Core Maths, look out for AMSP events and offers of support with awarding student grades in the next couple of months.

By Tom Carpenter

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