After exam season is over, I expect that Heads of Maths and Key Stage 5 Coordinators all over the country will be making plans for delivering the new A level from September.

Timings at A level always make me nervous. I hate having to rush my teaching. Linear A levels are meant to improve the situation, but I'm not convinced that there will be much chance to slow down.

My school (a suburban comprehensive school with a large Sixth Form) has nine hours a fortnight teaching time at A level. I recently did a poll on Twitter to find out how this compares to other schools. Here are the results:

At my previous school I only had eight hours a fortnight and it worked fine, mainly because the vast majority of my students got an A* in their maths GCSE. I now have a lot of students who got a B in their GCSE, so the start of the year has to go at a relatively slow pace. Instead of briefly revising surds, indices and quadratics, many students need these topics taught from scratch. The same will probably be true of grade 6 students starting A level maths this September.

Timings at A level always make me nervous. I hate having to rush my teaching. Linear A levels are meant to improve the situation, but I'm not convinced that there will be much chance to slow down.

My school (a suburban comprehensive school with a large Sixth Form) has nine hours a fortnight teaching time at A level. I recently did a poll on Twitter to find out how this compares to other schools. Here are the results:

At my previous school I only had eight hours a fortnight and it worked fine, mainly because the vast majority of my students got an A* in their maths GCSE. I now have a lot of students who got a B in their GCSE, so the start of the year has to go at a relatively slow pace. Instead of briefly revising surds, indices and quadratics, many students need these topics taught from scratch. The same will probably be true of grade 6 students starting A level maths this September.

Later in the year, time is lost to internal exams - at my school we have multiple rounds of 'PPEs' (pre-public exams), amounting to at least six weeks off timetable over the course of Year 12 and 13. Although I do see some benefits to formal internal exams, I'd prefer to see more of this assessment happen during lessons so that loss of teaching time is minimised.

If a fire alarm goes off when I'm teaching A level I want to cry! The time pressure is such that every lost hour is a worry. Lessons are also lost to inset days, bank holidays and school events, so a degree of flexibility has to be built into schemes of work.

By my calculations, I will have approximately

**270 hours**in which to deliver the new A level over two years. This assumes that I will teach right up until the end of April 2018.
Daniel Fox (@danielfox66) told me that his school has applied

**a two thirds reduction**to all of Edexcel's suggested teaching times in order to make things fit. I think my school will probably have to do something similar. Hopefully that will also leave some time for revision and in-class assessment throughout the two year course.
Having looked through the scheme of work, there are some topics where I definitely wouldn't want to reduce Edexcel's recommended timings. But, for example, their suggestion of seven hours in Year 12 on binomial expansions could easily be reduced to four hours. We will need to go through the scheme of work in detail, topic by topic, and work out where hours can be cut. I

*think***it's feasible, it just requires a bit of work.**
Once the timings are sorted, the next task is to work out how to sensibly split the content between two teachers.

I'd like to hear how other schools are approaching timings, schemes of work and content splits. It makes a lot of sense for schools to share what they've done, so that we're not all re-inventing the wheel. Please get in touch through Twitter or by commenting below.

We normally have 6 lessons at 50 mins each, split between 4 Core (1 teacher) and 2 Applied (other teacher). Plan for next year is 3 lessons for 1 teacher doing Core & Stats and 1 doing Core & Mechanics. Will sit the AS exams, but give no time for study leave, and possibly plan to start A2 prior to these exams starting. Will probably have to reluctantly buy new textbooks as won't have enough Applied textbooks. Will also specify a calculator that all students have to buy (Classwiz?). Hodder have a SoW (MEI) for this split that seems to work quite well. Will also try and get 1 lesson out of 3 in a computer room to use Excel/GeoGebra etc.

ReplyDeleteThanks for post. Could you point me to the Hodder MEI SoW? We are using Integral Maths next year to avoid buying fresh text books, and working piecemeal from the old MEI text books as the questions already contain the right level of challenge and problem solving the new spec requires. Still panicking about ICT and calculators.

DeleteSo I'm starting this in what is a new school to me this year. At my last one we had 5 50 minute periods a week on a 4:1 split between the core and the applied module. We could however be flexible enough that any year 13's resitting their applied module could attend the year 12 lesson. In my new school in the course of one year we have gone from 8 hours a fortnight all in up to 10 hours now largely thanks to staff giving up their time.

ReplyDeleteThis is actually being timetabled into next year thus meaning we can choose to run extra lesson as interventions rather than just to cover the content. I'm also being told that due to timetable constrictions it will be on a 6:4 split between myself and one other teacher in year 12. The plan is for the 6 to be the bulk of the Pure content and the Mechanics as the two can feed into each other with the block of 4 being the Statistics and some of the more free standing Pure content.

We have got a weaker cohort in our current year 12 but next year looks more promising. A more rigorous take on prior knowledge means we can hopefully avoid spending a lot of time teaching what is GCSE algebra. To answer the easier questions we are jumping from Pearson to MEI and will be recommending and selling the Casio Classwiz calculators alongside using ipads and laptops in lessons to support the use of technology. As for the AS I'd rather not but I can see why we would want to to ensure students take it more seriously than an internal assessment.

We are on five hours per week with a 3:2 split between the two teachers. For the first half term we plan for both teachers to be starting the core content. After that the three hour per week will only be core and the two hours per week will only be applied.

ReplyDeleteWe plan to cover the applied in three week (6 lesson) blocks (there could be some flexibility in this). The idea is that each group will have their core teacher and two applied teachers. After each three week block each group will swap to their "other" applied teacher. Eg Group A will have Stats, Mech, Stats, Mech etc whilst Group B will have Mech, Stats, Mech, Stats.

We believe the positives of will be: -

- the staff who are currently the stats experts being able to develop the stats part of the course (same with mechanics).

- The applied staff will be able to teach the same set of lessons twice in a row and will be able to refine/develop etc.

Long term we may get rid of the rotation but it seems to be something we can run with initially and means I'm not terrifying my stats teachers with having to teach mechanics or visa versa.

We also have nine hours a fortnight, but taught by one teacher. Further Maths is 14 hours a fortnight and taught by two teachers in a 9:5 split. Our aim with the FMs will be to cover the new A level in the first year while we get our minds around the new Further Maths spec.

ReplyDeleteWe are also going for Integral rather than a new textbook. The new textbook is lovely but far too big at well over 500 pages, and we can't afford to buy 120 of them for September.

360 hours would imply about 6 hours a week during the useful year. I'm planning on about 270 hours over the two years for Maths, and rather less for the Further Maths.

And then I retire.

We have only 8 hours a fortnight for each of Maths and Further Maths. As usual we will be scrabbling to simply get students up to scratch on techniques with little opportunity to delve in deeper and explore. I'm stressed!

ReplyDeleteWe teach 6 x 50mins lessons taught by 2 teachers on a 3/3 split. Try to timetable a double and single. We plan to split it so both do core and one person does Mechanics and one stats.

ReplyDeleteWe're on AQA but have written our SOW taking their suggested timings but using bits from other boards(MEI plans are very good, especially use of technology). The compulsory content now makes this possible.

Further is a lot tougher, only have 5x50Mins as it is an additional option for students taught as enrichment. I think content much more "rigorous", timing will be tough as Further Students will sit the AS at the end of yr12 incase they don't want the full A-Level.

We have opted to push for the Classwiz as calculator, and go with the Oxford textbooks with Kerboodle...mainly because we can only afford one class set to share amongst 3 groups, gone are the days of public personal copies...with Kerboodle they can still access textbooks at home, we will offer them books to buy, but most will have to make do with a free online version (I day free, it costs us £300/yr!).

Overall I'm happy with what we've put together SOW wise, my KS5 leader is amazing, but I'm still worried about timings too.

More uncertainty ahead!

Thank you so much to everyone who has commented so far! Really appreciated.

ReplyDeleteThe textbook situation presents such a big dilemma... For schools who can afford textbooks, the question is whether to invest in first editions (given that first editions are often full of errors). It's such a big expense.

At schools like mine, where we simply can't afford to buy textbooks, the question is how to make sure that students have access to the course materials they need. I'm not worried about resources for lessons because there are plenty around (large photocopying bill though!), but students benefit from having a copy of the textbook so they have access to examples and explanations, plus exercises for independent practice. It's frustrating that we can't provide them with this.

The government changes the curriculum but doesn't provide any funding to schools to resource those changes. *sigh*

The OCR SoW assumes 22 weeks for AS and 25 to 30 for Stage 2 of A Level, but makes no assumptions about the number of hours that is.

ReplyDeleteThanks Will, that's helpful. I'll take a look.

DeleteI'm a bit different, being in a non-UK school. We teach CIE AS Maths in Y12 and A2 Maths in Y13. CIE recommends 180 clock-hours for each, but I have never sent a class in to the exam with more than 130 hours tuition time. I have ideas on how I could get a few more hours, but 180 is way out of reach.

ReplyDeleteThanks - interesting to hear that it's common for students to get far less than the recommended hours.

DeleteWe are having our A Level teaching time cut from 12x55min lesson per fortnight to 11x55min per fortnight, being split 6/5 between two teachers. Teacher A will teach Algebra/Calculus + Statistics whilst B will teach the other Pure topics and Mechanics. Fitting everything in according to the Edexcel SOW has been tight and hours have been shaved off topics here and there. I will trust in my team to go faster when they can to leave room for revision etc... being at an international school we lose days to public holidays and other events and if the timetabling happens to give you lessons on these days it could be tough. But at least there aren't the AS exams to eat away the time in Year 12. If anyone wants to see the SoW for my split I'd be happy to share.

ReplyDeleteThank you! Wow - you get so many hours! I guess things work differently at an international school (longer holidays presumably eat into your teaching time a fair bit...?). I'd love to see your SoW - could you email resourceaholic@gmail.com? Thank you!

DeletePlease could I have a copy? I have some excellent geogebra resources for statistics I can share (written by a colleague not me).

Deletemrssgraham@gmail.com if at all possible - thank you

DeletePlease could I have a copy too? That would be great. mainh@bpc.ac.uk - thanks

DeleteHilary I would be happy to share but it's on my Team Drive as a Google Sheet and I can only share to people with a gmail account, sorry.

DeleteHi Phil, Thanks for the reply. I do have a gmail account but don't use it very often so have had to think about how to access it. hilarynmain1609@gmail.com Many thanks.

DeleteWe are planning on using OCR and looking at their plan for teaching with two teachers but then I am attempting to populate are scheme of work with resources. We have the textbook problem and I am not sur how best to approach it, considering the online version of textbooks or integral but not sure what will be best. Lots in department are unsure about new content and so I want to include lots of information for staff (agree the MEI are good and I shall be using them and adding resources) and agree that students benefit from the book - does Integral provide explanations and enough questions for practice?

ReplyDeleteHi Rah2001, great to hear you are planning on using OCR!

ReplyDeleteWe are populating the scheme of work with resources via our delivery guides. I'm sorry that they arent out yet, but they are coming...

Integral resources are great. You might want to flesh out with more drill if that's how you work.

Excellent thanks. Yes I think we will need extra drill but for core at least I think our current books will cover most of that. I think I am most concerned about practice resources for mechanics and statistics and, in particular, activities for LDS. Edexcel seem to have some specific activities, will you be having some as well? Thanks for reply.

ReplyDeleteWe have two LDS resources on the website already: go here and scroll down to lesson elements...

ReplyDeletehttp://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-mathematics-a-h230-h240-from-2017/

More stuff on its way including LDS stuff.

Great thank you

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I work at an International school and we have 8 45 minute lessons a week for Maths A Level and 10 45 minute lessons for FM. I feel quite lucky but for FM it is still quite rushed depending on the cohort.

ReplyDeleteWhat I would like to know is how are people going to deliver the FM content? Would you run parallel with the A level or do the A level maths in Yr 12 and the A level FM in yr 13???

Any thoughts?

Wow, so many lessons! That would be wonderful. We're running FM parallel to the maths, as we've always done, though I do think there's a good case for doing maths followed by FM.

Delete