What use is Maths?
You may wonder what connects the Maths you do in school to the real world. Will you ever have to solve an equation or find an angle outside your classroom? Maths is very useful and is everywhere in everyday life. You might not think of buying sweets as algebra or consider the Maths that went into designing your favourite computer game. However, Maths is everywhere and what you learn in school will be very important for your future.
You will have studied shapes and space, which is the oldest branch of Maths. The Greeks were able to calculate the radius of the Earth (which they knew was round!) using the same techniques you are now learning. Later on, trigonometry helped to put men on the moon. In the everyday world, the ideas in space and geometry are used in computer graphics, to make sense of medical scans and in designing haircuts, amongst many other things.
Statistics and Probability
Newspapers and TV news are full of statistics, used to make all kinds of arguments. With an understanding of the subject you don’t need to rely on what the ‘experts’ tell you – you can make up your own mind. Knowing a bit about probability lets you manage risk and decide whether taking a chance is worth it. More advanced forms of this kind of Maths are used to find out about the way diseases spread and the effects of global warming.
Algebra and Equations
A real world example of using algebra is pricing e.g. you have £5 and you want to buy a drink that costs £1.00 and spend what is left on cookies at 75p each, how many cookies can you buy? You can use simple algebra to work it out – 0.75𝑥 + 1.00 = 5. When you’re looking at the cakes in a shop you probably think of your variables as ‘tasty’ rather than 𝑥, but it’s the same process. It is just that in your Maths class you are taught the most general case so it can be applied to everything.
Number and Proportion
Arithmetic crops up a lot in daily life. For example, working out the dose of medicine to give your dog and if your pocket money will last for the whole week. You may often have a calculator around to help with this but if you hit the wrong button things can go very wrong. Being able to do mental arithmetic helps you spot if a number looks wrong – it’s like having a safety net to catch you if you make a mistake.
We use a decimal system to write down numbers. The word decimal comes from the Greek word for 10, and our system is based on the number 10. Every positive whole number can be written down using the 10 symbols 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. With the additional help of the minus sign and the decimal point we can write down any number as accurately as we want.
But sometimes the bare numbers do not tell you what you need to know. In practical situations we are also likely to use proportion – expressed as ratios and fractions. If chefs do not get the proportion between the ingredients right when they are cooking they will soon run out of customers. Many materials used to repair or build things, like plaster or certain glues, are made up of various components that need to be mixed in the right proportions.
Percentages are used all the time when dealing with money – whether it is finding a bargain in the sales or calculating interest.
Understanding numbers is as fundamental as knowing how to read. The Maths you are learning now is designed to help you. The more you work at it, the more you will be rewarded with a better understanding of what’s going on in the world around you. And when you know what is happening, you can make a difference. (Adapted from Mathscareers.org.uk)
Following changes to the curriculum we now begin GCSE Maths in Year 9 and are following the Edexcel exam board. In Years 9-10 we are almost covering a two-year GCSE course – with only a few topics left for Year 11. Year 11 will be focussed on revising key topics that appear more frequently in exams and becoming more familiar with exam-styled questions as well as the few topics left over from Year 10. There is also a new “Money Management” topic introduced for Year 9. Whilst this is not in the curriculum for Maths – and is included in our PSHE lessons – we felt it important to help prepare pupils for life after school with regards to how loans, credit cards, bills and budgets affect them – particularly with the Maths skills they will need. This will be covered just before the pupils make their options choices as our way to help show the importance of the decisions they are making.
Whereas in Key Stage 4 we are covering all the topics in the curriculum, in Key Stage 3 we are focussing on the more core topics. We have identified 18 topics that – if fully understood – will enable pupils to access any topic left in the curriculum as these core topics make up the building blocks of the others. The majority of topics in Year 7 focus on number-based work to ensure a smooth transition from Key Stage 2. The topics in Year 8 revisit some of the topics from Year 7, whilst adding a few extras to ensure pupils are ready to begin their GCSEs. Unlike in Key Stage 4, each topic will be covered at the same time for all abilities – the depth of understanding will be the key to differentiating between abilities. There are also regular opportunities to use the Maths knowledge learned in practical project-based tasks – ensuring that pupils’ problem solving skills and resilience are challenged and extended – and that pupils can once again see where Maths is used in real life.
Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11)
What will pupils learn on this course?
On this course, pupils will continue to study the four main areas of Mathematics:
- Shape and Space
- Statistics and Probability
In addition to this, pupils should be able to:
Use and apply standard techniques
- Accurately recall facts, terminology & definitions.
- Use & interpret notation correctly
- Accurately carry out routine procedures or set tasks requiring multi-step solutions.
Reason, interpret and communicate mathematically
- Make deductions, inferences and draw conclusions from mathematical information
- Interpret and communicate information accurately
- Present arguments and proofs
Solve problems within mathematics and in other contexts
- Make and use connections between different parts of mathematics
- Interpret results in the context of the given problem
- Evaluate methods used and results obtained
How will pupils be assessed on this course?
At the end of the course, pupils will sit three exams. In two of these, pupils are permitted to use a calculator.
What kind of work will pupils need to do outside of lessons?
Pupils will continue to be set Home Learning Tasks which enable them to learn and use the skills taught in class.
What could pupils go on to do at the end of the course?
A majority of college courses will require a Maths GCSE, many at a grade 5 equivalent or above. Most employers will require a Mathematics qualification too.
Pupils in the top groups will also receive grounding in the skills required to follow ‘A’ Levels in Mathematics and Science.