3 July 2016

Warwick 2016

After school on Friday I hopped on a train to Coventry to attend Edexcel's conference 'Excellence in Mathematics: Into the Future' at the University of Warwick. It was a fantastic event, reminding me of the high quality residential training courses I used to attend in my previous career.
Shortly after arriving I attended a publishers exhibition at which I picked up a sample chapter from a new A level textbook. The content is very similar in format to the existing Pearson A level books. The 'P1' here refers to one of the new linear exams (for Edexcel, A level Maths students will have three exams at the end of Year 13 - P1 (Pure 1), P2 (Pure 2) and SM (Statistics and Mechanics)). 
Before dinner we had an update on the new A level specifications that are currently awaiting accreditation. Having followed developments closely I was familiar with most of this, but I was interested in the Further Maths options outlined on the slide below. I love pure maths so if I were a student choosing Further Maths options I'd go for FP3 and FP4, meaning my Further Maths A level would have no applied element at all.
The presentation also outlined upcoming changes to Statistics GCSE. Looks pretty tough.
There was a bingo game during the A level update, won by Sharon of Longley Park. The prize was this awesome clock! I love it that (for example) Pi is just after three and e is just before three.
Dinner was lovely. Bizarrely I met a maths teacher who lived in Botswana in the late 80s, when I was at primary school there - I've never met anyone who has lived in Botswana before so this was rather exciting. 
TES Maths Team of the Year members Chris and Mel get the red carpet treatment!

After dinner the Exam Wizard made an appearance at the bar! All good fun, and nice to catch up with some Twitter friends.

The next morning we were treated to Hannah Fry's keynote presentation, which was absolutely fantastic. I've been a big fan of Hannah Fry since I saw her speak at a Maths in Action event a few years ago. Hannah is a lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at my favourite university - UCL (I'm a UCL alumna!). I really enjoyed her recent TV series City in the Sky. She is a highly engaging speaker and I encourage you to see her if you get the chance.
After Hannah's keynote I spent the day delivering my 'Wonderful World of Maths Resources' workshop.

Here are the materials for this workshop:

Near the start of my workshop I asked delegates to write down the resource websites they often use - here's what they came up with! Aren't we lucky to have so many fantastic resource providers?

On the way home I enjoyed reading Hannah Fry's book, The Mathematics of Love. All delegates received a copy in their goody bag. It's a very funny book.
I had a fantastic time at Warwick 2016. Thanks to Mel (@Just_Maths) and the maths team at Edexcel for getting me involved. What a great event.

I'll leave you with two things mentioned in Hannah Fry's talk when she was speaking about modelling traffic shockwaves and pedestrian dynamics. First, craziness at Meskel Square, which looks terrifying but somehow seems to work out ok...

Second, the spinning block of doom! This is hilarious.


  1. Thanks for this summary and your tweets on the day. I'm big fan of City in the Sky too. I don't really watch much on TV but that series was fascinating.

  2. A lovely summary of what sounds like a really engaging workshop, thank you! One disturbing point you made to pick up on: I am very perturbed that one can do a full maths and further maths A-level with the equivalent of only about S1 and M1 in applied maths. One's mathematics is very limited if one has never seriously engaged with mechanics. (Statistics at A-level is mostly formula/number crunching, sadly.) So I would encourage teachers who have the confidence to choose Further Mechanics 1 and 2 as the optional FM modules if they are going with Edexcel, rather than the Further Pure 3 and 4 modules. (Further Pure 4 looks quite nice, mind you, but you can't do it without Further Pure 3, which is a shame, as FP3 looks far less interesting.)

    1. Thanks for your comment. I really think this is a matter of opinion. People who love mechanics think everyone should study it, the same is true of people who love decision maths...

      I did pure maths A level and a statistics degree at UCL and I don't think I'm an inferior mathematician because I've never studied mechanics. I appreciate that opinions on this differ though.

    2. What's worse, it's not even M1 and S1. The Mechanics taken together is so trivial, with no momentum and no energy, and the Statistics is a weird mish-mash from easy to hard (with the easy in the second half of the A Level). Further Maths students will have a difficult choice ... except they won't, because school will choose their modules for them. I foresee difficulties.