Case study: USP College

How this FE college is increasing participation in level 3 maths

  • Uptake of level 3 maths has increased significantly
  • Uptake of Core Maths and A level Mathematics are particularly strong
  • Guidance and careers education are key factors in recruitment.

USP College is a further education college located in Thundersley, Benfleet, Essex, and Grays Thurrock, England. USP College was created after Seevic College and Palmer's College merged in August 2017. Approximately 4,500 students attend the college.

The college offers a wide range of A levels, alongside vocational qualifications, professional and technical courses, apprenticeships and Higher Education opportunities.

Since 2017 there have been significant increases in student numbers for all level 3 maths options. Core Maths numbers increased from 49 to over 200, requiring an expansion to ten classes. A level Mathematics numbers increased from 55 to 142, and A level Further Mathematics from 9 to 19.

These dramatic increases came about as a result of a carefully designed recruitment strategy, working with Year 11 students from local schools, in line with USP College’s career-focused education. It focuses on the need for students to continue to study maths beyond GCSE to support their career pathways.

Between September and December, prospective Year 11 students are interviewed, and provided with information, advice and guidance. These interviews focus on the student’s career aspirations.

The enrolment team from the Mathematics department consider the grades each student is predicted to achieve and the best options moving forward.

A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics are promoted where there is a clear benefit for students to take these, considering their other subjects and the career the student is interested in.

Core Maths is promoted to students who are taking A level combinations including Social Science, Psychology, Business, etc. The benefits of Core Maths in supporting and complementing the maths in their other subjects is highlighted, as are the benefits of taking Core Maths to support preparation for a future degree course. References are made to the additional UCAS points (equivalent to an AS) and universities encouraging Core Maths, such as the University of Essex. In addition, students are informed of the usefulness of the skills developed in Core Maths for their future employability.

Prospective students attend an interview at which they receive information, advice and guidance relating to their career aspirations. They are then invited to a taster day in June/July. Once their GCSE results are known they receive further support from the enrolment team. The career path of the student remains the key focus throughout the process, with the aim of ensuring that students are taking qualifications that are relevant for their intended university or employment pathway.

The Director Mathematics and English at USP College, Seval Fadil, introduced Core Maths at the college. Seval is passionate in promoting level 3 maths to students. She recognises the need for students to study maths beyond GCSE to help them develop the skills and confidence to follow their ambitions and desired career pathways.

The maths staff at USP College are talented and qualified maths teachers, who all teach the GCSE resit through to A level. Seval has embedded opportunities for on-going professional development, with training included in weekly team meetings and periodic CPD afternoons during the year. Seval is actively engaged with the AQA Maths hub network meetings and teachers have attended a variety of AMSP professional development courses, including AMSP conferences for Further Mathematics and Core Maths, Teaching Further Mathematics sustained professional development, and Higher Level Problem Solving professional development.

Level 3 maths courses offered

Year Courses Teaching time per week GCSE grade requirements
12 A level Mathematics 4 hours 30 min GCSE Mathematics grade 7 or above
12 A level Further Mathematics 4 hours 30 min GCSE Mathematics grade 8 or above
12 Core Maths 4 hours 30 min GCSE Mathematics grade 4 or above
13 A level Mathematics 4 hours 30 min  
13 A level Further Mathematics 4 hours 30 min  

Curriculum Structure

Students following an A level route take three A levels during Year 12 and 13. Further Mathematics can be taken as a fourth A level by some students.

The student timetable has 5 blocks during a week. Each block comprises of 3 one and a half hour lessons.

Core Maths is offered as a one-year course in Year 12.

Seval Fadil USP College

“As a college, the strategy is Career-Focused Learning and ensuring that the learner experience and the relationship of the college within the community, local and regional employers, is at the heart of everything..”

Seval Fadil
Director Mathematics and English at USP College

More advice

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

Advanced Maths Options leaflet
Advanced Maths Options leaflet
Core Maths factsheet
Core Maths factsheet
Further Mathematics factsheet
Further Mathematics factsheet
Supporting your students’ transition to advanced maths page
Supporting your students’ transition to advanced maths page
Strategies for offering Core Maths page
Strategies for offering Core Maths page

This case study was created in partnership by:

NCETM
Maths Hubs
AMSP