Mathematical Miscellany #18

crashMATHS has some very useful free resources for GCSE and A Level; the site is under development but you will find plenty of useful resources already. Checking for some additional resources on Completing the square for my Year 10 students I came across a GCSE worksheet from crashMaths; this has a good variety of questions including questions to stretch your students aiming at the highest grades. The worksheet solutions are noted as coming soon. For a topic such as completing the square, this is an ideal time to use technology to check our work. Any of Desmos, GeoGebra and WolframAlpha could be used. (Select for Desmos page.)
Completing the Square

crashMATHS AQA styleStaying with crashMATHS, note the A Level Practice Papers and mark schemes, this looks like a very valuable resource. There are several papers and mark schemes available with more coming. Versions are provided for AQA and Edexcel, these use the style of papers we see from the exam boards. Currently, there is nothing for OCR. For Mathematics the content is the same for all the boards and for Further Mathematics we have a prescribed core which must comprise approximately 50% of its content. This common content as we have with GCSE is very useful indeed as we can use resources from all the examination boards.

Continuing with an A Level theme we have a very interesting read, published 25th January 2018, “An evaluation of the item difficulty in AS and A level maths“. This compares the difficulty of items in sample AS and A level maths assessment materials from 2016 and 2017 with the A Level papers from 2015. The overall objective of the exercise was to compare the profile of item difficulty within the SAMs with that of the corresponding 2015 assessments, a question I believe is on the minds of Maths teachers!

SAMS & Legacy A Level comparison

Ofqual: Expected item difficulty Legacy & Reformed Specs



Clearly, we can look at the specimen materials ourselves and make our own judgement on the difficulty but this seems a robust study which used Comparative Judgement. This is a technique where each reviewer reviews many pairs of items and decides each time which item is more difficult to answer.

Items from the sample assessment materials submitted for 4 specifications,  AQA, MEI, OCR and Pearson were used.

The study shows slightly higher levels of expected difficulty for items from the sample assessments relative to the 2015 assessments but the increase in difficulty is small.  The paper states that ‘Such small differences can easily be accommodated by the setting of grade boundaries at awarding. The choice of specifications to teach should be based more on content and style as there is little appreciable difference in difficulty.’

For further reading on Comparative Judgement, look at the work of Daisy Christodoulou.


If you have not yet signed up for the new home of Edexcel’s Maths Emporium then do so! This is such a valuable resource. Latest additions include some great new GCSE maths practice papers. There is a wonderful set of practice papers by topic. Look first at GCSE Mathematics, then choose Cabinet 11 for the current specification. Under Practice Papers you will find the themed set – brilliant!
Emporium Resource

NCETM Secondary Assessment MaterialsTo finish this collection, from NCETM look at their Secondary Assessment materials which have been written to support teachers in making judgements on the degree to which pupils have mastered various components of the KS3 mathematics curriculum. This follows the primary Mastery Materials, which was published in 2015.

See further posts in the Mathematical Miscellany Series.

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,, 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