Thursday, 14 January 2016

An Introduction to the new A levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics (UKPSF V2 V4)

Last night I went to an event called An Introduction to new A levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics at the University of Plymouth. The event was aimed at teachers who teach mathematics at A-level. In the past, I have taught an introductory course on calculus and complex numbers. It is never very clear what knowledge of mathematics the students have when they passed A-level mathematics. Indeed I went to one course in Birmingham, where the consus views of the new lecturers present was that you could not assume any mathematics knowledge for students coming into University with A level mathematics.

The A-level mathematics courses are being redesigned. The module system is being scrapped. This is where the A-level is broken into modules and the students have to pass each module. There is an exam at the end of maybe each semester. In the new system, the modules are scrapped and the content is taught linearly. This can only be a good thing, because it seems that students  sometimes assume that they can forget material once they pass the module, rather than build up on top of material.

The new syllabus had an amazing amount of stuff in it. It would be great, if we could get more students with further mathematics.

It wasn't totally clear when the new A level will be taught, but it could be that we don't see any new students until 2019.  We will have to wait and see whether the students are better prepared. It was also interesting to get an insight into what the teachers were thinking.

How does it help my teaching? It would be good, if we could start a course by revising reminding them about material we have previously taught them. This is slightly complicated, because there are four different exam boards.