Underground Maths: Prepare for the new A Level

This will be so helpful for our preparation for the new A Level, I particularly like the Resource suggestions.

For each content statement, Underground Maths have suggested up to three rich resources and up to three Review questions. Each suggestion is hyperlinked to take you directly to the resource on the Underground Mathematics site. Resources that are particularly good at supporting the overarching theme of Mathematical modelling have been highlighted.

These of course are suggestions. There are so many outstanding resources on Underground Maths. In our department, like many others I am sure we will be exploring the resources and bookmarking our own favourites.

I have a series of pages on Underground Mathematics. This is a work in progress and I will be adding more content over the coming weeks. Some of my many favourites are on these pages…

Follow Underground Mathematics on Twitter or Facebook.
Note there is also a closed Facebook Group for teachers. We’d love to hear which Underground Maths resources you’ve been using, share your thoughts, ask questions or show your students work for discussion.

Mathematical Miscellany #12

On his outstanding website full of very high quality resources, drfrostmaths.com, Jamie Frost has now launched his new Homework Site.

Completely free this does a lot! Practise questions on National Curriculum and enrichment topics, choosing questions by topic and by diffculty, perhaps choose UKMT Maths Challenge questions as these are in the extensive database too. Students can practise independently and earn points and trophies. Teachers can set and monitor work using the powerful Data Analytic Feature. I will certainly be trying this with my students and easily uploaded my Year 9 class which took moments.

Something I alway do is add myself to my classes so I can get the student view, Colleen Student is a very busy student – she’s in a lot of classes! Jamie Frost has this as an easy feature already provided; you can be Demo McDemoFace (love the name!) in any class.

So here’s Demo McDemoFace practising her Algebra!


What a sophisticated way to choose questions, not just the subject but the difficulty as well and additional skills to include or exclude.

So I can confirm that it is very easy to use as a student, Demo McDemoFace did a bit of Algebra and earned a trophy!

The interface for entering solutions is intuitive and very easy to use,


Explore this site and sign up your students. Thank you Dr Frost from teachers everywhere! This looks superb. More to follow on this.

MEI have published this video (18 minutes) to introduce features of the new MEI AS/A level Maths specs, explaining the decisions made and how they support good teaching, learning and assessment. MEI’s YouTube Channel includes this and other helpful videos. This is helpful in its discussion of the new requirements for Statistics

On the subject of new A Level Specifications I am working on the series of pages on  A Level Reform. There have been several updates recently, a work in progress, there is much to do here and I am very much looking forward to working with the new specification. Using for example Desmos is something I do all the time anyway so I am delighted that the new specifications require the Use of Technology. Quite right too to assess the Use of Data in Statistics and the use of large data sets. MEI discuss their use of Data in the video above.

For schools who use AQA’s excellent Level 2 Further Mathematics Qualification, news from AQA states that this qualification has been extended and will be available for all students in 2019. AQA’s intention is “to redevelop it for first assessment in 2020 to ensure that it still fulfils its stated purpose of filling the gap between GCSE Maths and further studies in Maths at Level 3.”

My Year 11s this year have been studying both AQA’s GCSE 9-1 course and the Level 2 Further Maths; these have made a wonderful complementary pair. Many of the Further Mathematics questions have provided additional practice for the standard GCSE course. The extension will allow us some breathing space to keep working on the new GCSE course and take on the new A level specifications.

And finally..
This has been doing the rounds recently and illustrates beautifully that caution is required in our statistical analysis! Be a little wary of summary statistics! From AUTODESK Research, “Same Stats, Different Graphs… Note that you can download a detailed paper by Justin Matejka and George Fitzmaurice of Autodesk Research.

A Level (16-18) Resources – STEM Learning

STEM Learning hosts hundreds of Mathematics resources, resister free here. Log in to STEM Learning to download any of the resources here.

For the new A Level Specifications from STEM Learning comes this A level mathematics resource packages. To quote STEM Learning “Each resource has been hand-picked to cover key subject content in Pure, Mechanics and Statistics, as well as meet the overarching themes of mathematical argument, language, proof, problem solving and modelling.”

The package includes resources covering all the sections in the subject content given for Pure, Mechanics and Statistics in the Department for Education’s document: Mathematics AS and A level content. The references I have added to the images are those used in that subject content document.

STEM Learning A kevel mathematics resource packages

STEM Learning A kevel mathematics resource packages

Indices – Odd one out. Susan Wall

Each section begins with a reminder of the subject content and leads to several resources selected by STEM Learning, Have a look at Algebra: Indices, linear and quadratic functions for example.

Marking from Further Indices

I see some resources from Susan Wall’s excellent resources. (Resources from Susan Wall can be found in this Active A Level Mathematics collection on STEM Learning.) I do like marking activities such as the one illustrated here and have used many such resources successfully.

Exploring these resources I see familiar excellent resources such as those from the Standards Unit; note the Mostly Calculus resources and I have been happily side-tracked looking at some less familiar collections, Exponential Graphs for example which is part of the Exponentials and Logarithms collection comes from the Core Maths Support Program resources.

The collection includes a great variety of resource types, we have for example Michael Bawtree’s Prove It Algebraically

Prove It algebraically – Michael Bawtree

If you like this resource then take a look at the Virtual Textbook Secondary collection.

Turning to Mechanics and Statistics examples, we have a great variety of resources including some great use of Excel. I like this Descriptive Statistics resource very much, a combination of Excel sheets and work cards this should really help understanding. This and some of the other resources could be adapted for use with younger students too.

I see a Mechanics resource which is a link to one of the PhET smulations; I would recommend the HTML5 collection as this will work across platforms and devices.

Moments – Revision

These resources have been added to the A level resources page.

Examinations, Twitter Lists…

… can be so very useful!

For example, try this list of just the UK Examination Boards Maths teams; you don’t even need to sign up to Twitter, just follow the list for updates and resources from the exam boards.

For some samples from these tweets:

For a more general examinations list which includes more organisations associated with assessment, see this list which includes all the examination boards including WJEC, who I see also have a Question Bank tool which allows teachers of Maths, Computing, Science, Electronics, Business Studies, Food & Nutrition and Physical Education to create a paper at either Entry Level, GCE or GCSE.  I can confirm the Question Bank tool is very easy to use and works brilliantly;  I searched for GCSE Maths filtered by Algebra and Problem and created a paper with mark schemes and examiners’ comments in minutes.

The list also includes Ofqual, the Department for Education and the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors.

WJEC Algebra problem

WJEC GCSE Algebra problem




Mathematical Miscellany #10

For any of your students studying for STEP direct them to this excellent portal from stepmaths.co.uk which has (all free) access to STEP questions and solutions. Create an account, login and you have access to a complete library of resources.

The resources are very clearly presented. For each question you have access to a pdf with the question, Examiners’ Report and both an Official and thanks to Peter Mitchell a fully worked handwritten solution.

Note that you can also download a copy of  Stephen Siklos’ Advanced Problems in Mathematics and Core MathematicsAdvanced Problems in Mathematics is excellent preparation for ANY undergraduate Mathematics course.

Following each question, you will find a discussion and a full solution. The clear Contents page lists all 43 problems. Each problem has been given a title and a rough indication of the mathematical content which means you can pick out questions by topic.

See also, from Cambridge University, their STEP Support Programme and from Nrich, Prepare for University.

These details are also available on Mathematics for Students.

On the subject of challenging questions for older students and with revision on our minds, perhaps a good time to remind everyone of the excellent MadAsMaths site.

MadAsMaths mark scheme example


The AQA Mathematics AS and A Level specifciations have now been accredited. Watch the AQA website for further resources on the new specification. Checking Teaching Resources we see that AQA are developing their route maps; I have always found the GCSE route maps very helpful indeed.

AQA Route Map

Something I have used a great deal with my GCSE teaching for both the current and previous specifications is AQA’s detailed and very clear teaching guidance.

AQA Teaching Guidance

An A Level Teaching Guidance extract is available.

We can also see Command Words which reminds me a little of the Exam Terminology document so useful at GCSE. There seem to be versions of this document in various places, I believe the first time I used it was back in the days when there were more Examination Boards, this may well have come from the then Southern Examining Group!

Under Assessment resources we find Specimen Papers and mark schemes; also an Assessment Guide on using a large data set. On the subject of large data sets, for information on all the Examination Boards and large data sets, read Bruce Hampton’s clear and detailed comparison.

I have added an AQA page to the A Level Reform series.

Royal Statistical Society Problem Solving

Eduqas will not be offering AS / A Level Mathematics specifications, but note their Level 3 Statistical Problem Solving Using Software. See also  the International Centre for Statistical Education (ICSE) with Plymouth University and you can follow @IntCSE on Twitter. It may be that some of the resources here will be useful for our teaching of Statistics.

Educas state: “The objective of this qualification is to assist the understanding of the problem-solving cycle of planning, collecting, processing and discussing in meaningful contexts and to use statistical software to process real data sets. It has been specifically designed to be taught in schools and colleges to equip learners aged 16-19 with a broad range of skills empowering them to successfully negotiate statistical problems in Higher Education or the world of work.”

Staying with the subject of Statistics AQA and Edexcel have accredited GCSE specifications; note that coursework is no longer a requirement of GCSE Statistics.

See more in the Mathematical Miscellany Collection.