Collins GCSE Maths Festival – The evolution of mathematics teaching


Mathematics teaching has evolved over many years and of course changes somewhat as the assessment process changes. Those of us involved over the last 30 years in both teaching and assessing mathematics have seen the pendulum swing in different directions!

Now we have another seismic change, the new specifications (syllabi to some) now specifies;

  • Develop fluent knowledge, skills and understanding of mathematical methods and concepts.
  • Acquire, select and apply mathematical techniques to solve problems.
  • Reason mathematically, make deductions and inferences and draw conclusions.
  • Comprehend, interpret and communicate mathematical information in a variety of forms appropriate to the information and context


All excellent aims and what teachers have been bringing into some lessons for years – but now it’s going to be assessed in the GCSE examinations in a way that it has never been done before.

That was why the Collins GCSE text books have needed rewriting, to bring this to the fore and give plenty of scope for practice in the classroom and at home for the students.

In every single exercise, bar one or two, there are questions that specifically lead students through the path shown above. They are being asked to work with parts of mathematics done earlier, they are being asked to make decisions, to criticise other people’s answers and to work through problems with no given structure.

They will be asked to prove some geometrical theories that only their grandparents will have had to do at school – a real challenge to the parents of today.

Both the foundation book and the higher book have been written bearing these changes in mind with a wish to assist teachers in the teaching but mainly to allow the students to experience a huge variety of situations where they can be asked to show processes and to communicate information in a way never asked before.

Mathematics builds up in building blocks, so this strategy was employed in the Collins Maths Frameworking which is the Key stage 3 books preparing students for GCSE,   written by the same authors, with the same principles of leading the students through as much practice as possible to apply mathematics to everyday life as well as to appreciate mathematics in it’s own way as a useful tool servicing other disciplines.

So, teachers, students and pupils will find these new GCSE books ideal to guide them through the new regime, to prepare them well for their assessment and above all, to practice mathematics with real life material that they can identify with and enjoy.

Whenever I teach mathematics I want my pupils to catch that enthusiasm, to appreciate that beauty of mathematics and how it all links together. I want them to be able to work through graded examples to their level as well as being pushed at the top end – these books do all that.


Brian Speed

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