## AQA’s summary guide updated

AQA has just finalised its 14 page summary guide to the specification and made it downloadable here. Example questions are featured on pages 8-11.

The guide covers GCSE Maths, Functional Maths, and also previews the “linked pair” pilot.

## Get Ready Pack now downloadable

As we mentioned a few days ago, schools have just been mailed the Longman Get Ready Pack for the new GCSE Maths course. There’s a copy now for teachers to download from our website.

We tried to answer some of your top questions, such as:

- How do I get more grade Cs?
- What about high and low abilities?
- What are the new Assessment Objectives?
- Print, digital… or both?
- What is Functional Maths all about?

Use the Comments link to tell us what you think.

## How teachers decide which tier to enter

We asked 100-ish teachers recently about the techniques they use to decide which GCSE Maths tier – Foundation or Higher – to enter their students in. You might be familiar with the approaches they described but perhaps you’ve not seen them ranked before, in order of popularity.

** 1. Mock exams**

Respondents used mock exams as the way in which they determined which tier pupils should be entered for. Some entered pupils into two mock exams, one for each tier, to determine which was most appropriate.

**2. Teacher evaluation of past performance**

Respondents mentioned using teacher assessment or evaluation, conducted through a number of means including formative assessment throughout the year and class observation. For some, the key thing to observe was whether a pupil was capable of achieving a B grade. If they were not, they would automatically be entered at the foundation tier.

**3. SATS results**

Many were using KS3 SATS results to judge which tier was best for each student. The level used as a benchmark varied from level 5 to level 6. In some cases, SATS were used to determine which sets pupils were put into. Their set then determined automatically which exam they would be entered into.

**4. Attitude of pupil and / or parents / carers**

The attitude of pupils was a key factor for many. It was important that pupils were prepared to work hard and attend regularly. It was also important that they were sufficiently confident and calm to cope with a more difficult exam without panicking. Some respondents mentioned taking into consideration what the pupil wanted to do next in their studies or career. It was also clear that there was pressure from parents for pupils to take the higher tier exam.

**5. Performance in other modules**

Those taking a modular exam often used the results of previous modules to determine the tier used for the next.

**6. Skills in algebra**

A number of respondents mentioned that facility in algebra was the main factor in success at the higher tier and it was perceived algebra skills that determined which tier a pupil was entered into.

## Problem solving pointers

You’ll often see the phrase “problem solving” cropping up as a kind of shorthand for describing the entire requirements of the new Assessment Objectives. In fact, it’s not a wholly comprehensive or accurate description but it’s probably enough to get by on for now.

So, worth noting that aside from the new sample assessments, AQA point to the Additional Maths Pilot as a useful preliminary source of “problem solving questions” – you can find them here. Also you’ll find pages 7-11 of the downloadable Additional Mathematics Teacher Guide devoted to the issue. This document breaks progression in student problem solving down into three stages…

- First stage – Developing the ‘strategies’ as possible approaches
- Second stage – Developing awareness of the approaches as strategies
- Third Stage – Operating strategically

** **

**Interactive problem solving**

The Longman course will include a suite of interactive problem solving tools for whole class delivery on a whiteboard. The GradeStudio screengrab here shows a work-in-progress example of how these might work.

The tool asks the class to work in a systematic way: on understanding the problem, on planning a strategy for solving it, and then on working their way through a solution. Or they can cheat a bit and start with one of ours.

Image just links to a larger version, currently, but there’ll proper demos out first thing in the new year.

## It’s all about (functional) maths

Here’s another preview of a proof page from the Functional Maths spreads in the Longman GCSE books. In this activity, the intrepid Carlos is planning to equip himself as cheaply as possible for a night out on the Carpathian mountains, with a bunch of slavering wolves. Go Carlos!

Image links to a bigger version, we’ll get the link to a hi-res PDF version sorted soon.

Also, here’s a sneak preview of the cover artwork for Longman’s dedicated Functional Maths textbook.

You can sign up for e-news updates on this series here.

## Explaining AO1, AO2 and AO3

Glyn Payne gives an informal guide to the nature of AO1, AO2 and AO3 in the new GCSE Maths specification. Image links to YouTube.

## Glyn Payne on tackling AO3 questions

Here’s series editor Glyn Payne talking about what an AO3 question from Unit 1 Probability looks like and how to go about gaining maximum marks. Clicking the image takes you to You Tube.

A copy of the questions and answers he’s referring to, can be downloaded here.

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