Core Maths supporting other subjects
You may not have heard of Core Maths – that’s because it’s a fairly new type of level 3 qualification. It’s been designed to build students’ confidence with using maths and focuses on really useful maths skills that they’ll need for work and study.
Studying Core Maths helps to develop strong numeracy and problem-solving skills. It keeps maths skills fresh and will help students apply the maths they need for other subjects they are studying alongside it.
What is Core Maths?
Core Maths is an umbrella term for a specific type of level 3 maths qualification. A Core Maths course can be taken alongside A levels and vocational qualifications. It’s equal in size to an AS level qualification and carries the same number of UCAS tariff points.
Core Maths focuses on using maths to solve problems that arise in everyday life, business, or scientific contexts. It’s designed to:
- consolidate and build mathematical and statistical understanding
- develop confidence in thinking mathematically and applying maths in unfamiliar situations
- build skills in mathematical reasoning and communication
- support students’ learning in other subjects requiring quantitative skills
- prepare students for the real-life mathematical demands of further study and employment.
For a general overview, we recommend that you read our Core Maths factsheet.
The subject content of Core Maths qualifications varies between different specifications, but they all include:
- working with data
- understanding risk and probability
- understanding averages and variation in statistics
- using exponential functions to model growth and decay
- interpreting solutions in the context of the problem
- understanding sources of error and bias when problem-solving.
In addition, most Core Maths qualifications include:
- percentage change
- interpretation of graphs
- financial maths
- using standard units
- Fermi estimation
- the Normal distribution
- correlation, knowing it doesn’t imply causation
- making and evaluating assumptions when modelling or problem solving.
Students may also study topics such as critical path analysis and statistical hypothesis testing.
Who is Core Maths for?
Core Maths is designed for students who’ve achieved a grade 4 or above in GCSE Mathematics, but don’t intend to take AS/A level Mathematics. It’s particularly valuable for any student planning a future that requires good quantitative and statistical skills, whether that’s in higher education or employment.
How can Core Maths support students with their other subjects?
Studying Core Maths helps students to develop their quantitative and problem-solving skills, and improves their confidence with the mathematical content of other level 3 courses that they may be taking.
A broad range of A level and vocational courses require the maths skills that Core Maths helps to develop, including:
- Biology and Environmental Science
- Business and Economics
- Health and Social Care
- Sports Science and PE
Degrees such as Biology, Geography, Psychology, and Business Studies all expect mathematical competency that can be supported by studying Core Maths. Some universities now provide alternative entry offers which reduce one of the entry grades required by students who, in addition to the course requirements, attain a grade B or above in a level 3 maths qualification.
Simon Holland CGeog, Head of Geography at Bilborough College, said, “We were a pilot centre for Core Maths and we have really noticed how much better our Core Maths students cope in geography with stats and the NEA (Non-examined assessment).”
The AMSP is keen to work with relevant subject associations to further raise awareness of Core Maths and the benefits of students studying it alongside other subjects. We are already working with The Royal Geographical Society, The Association for Science Education, and The Association for the Teaching of Psychology and would welcome enquiries from similar organisations.
What support is available?
The AMSP offers support and guidance to maths departments on setting up Core Maths provision, and runs professional development for teachers (including those of other subjects) to develop Core Maths specific pedagogy and subject knowledge.
We also offer free resources to support Core Maths teaching and learning. This includes a self-study course that helps students to revise the skills they’ll need to support their transition to level 3 study.
We provide a range of information and promotional materials about Core Maths for students, explaining how it can help them achieve their future study and career goals. It includes a series of printed postcards and posters, each providing an example of how Core Maths supports the study of a different subject, such as Psychology. We also provide a leaflet for students that tells them about the skills they can learn from Core Maths and how it can help them in further study and the workplace.
These materials are available free of charge and you might like to request copies to give to students who are considering taking the subject you teach. Our office is currently closed due to Covid-19 but, if you’d like to receive printed copies of these items, please send a request to [email protected] and we’ll send out the required materials as soon as we’re able to.