Encouraging Mathematics

More students doing more mathematics

More students are studying A and AS level Mathematics and A and AS level Further Mathematics than ever before. The growth in both courses over the last 10 years has been dramatic.

Source: JCQ

All students intending to study sciences, engineering, business and social sciences, as well as mathematics at university, could benefit from studying more mathematics.

Universities play a key role in encouraging students to take Mathematics and Further Mathematics at A level. Course entry requirements and statements in admission policies and prospectuses, all indicate to students, their parents and teachers, the need to be appropriately prepared mathematically.

The FMSP works with schools and colleges in England and Wales to ensure that all students have access to tuition for Further Mathematics, either at their school/college or through FMSP-provided tuition. Over the past 10 years the proportion of state-funded schools and colleges offering Further Mathematics has risen from below 40% in 2003 to above approximately two-thirds in 2015.

The FMSP has produced two briefing documents for Higher Educations which provide data on the growth of A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics since 2003 as well as background information on the A level specifications and the support offered by the FMSP.

  • Mathematics Briefing for HEIs
  • Further Mathematics Briefing for HEIs

  • Applicants to Higher Education

    The proportion of students with A level Further Mathematics accepted onto many degree courses is increasing. The paper Transition to STEM degrees - Further Maths A level analyses the progression data which indicates a growing pool of students with Further Mathematics going on to study at university.

    Subject Total no. of students who studied A levels Proportion who had studied A level who had studied A2 Further Maths
    2013-14 cohort
    Mathematics 6427 59.6%
    General Engineering courses 2039 25.9%
    Physics 3682 36.1%
    Economics 5520 14.8%
    Finance 817 21.3%

    Source: UCAS

    AS level Further Mathematics

    AS level Further Mathematics is accessible to any student capable of passing A level Mathematics. Under the current (modular) qualification, the topics in the Further Pure 1 module are no more challenging than the content of C3 or C4. What is more, the FP1 module introduces new ideas such as complex numbers and matrices for the first time. Similarly, in the new (linear) qualification the compulsory core pure content covers similar content to the FP1 module. The FMSP recommends to any student planning to take a degree with significant mathematical content that they should consider taking AS Further Mathematics. Studying this qualification will help students make a smoother transition to their degree studies.

    The briefing document for Higher Education includes a summary of the content of AS and A2 Further Mathematics.

    The Pre-university Mathematics Guide, produced by MEI, provides information about the mathematical content of current A and AS level specifications for Mathematics and Further Mathematics together with details of other post-16 qualifications including: Free Standing Mathematics Qualifications; Diplomas; Scottish Highers; and the IB..

    Working with the FMSP

    The FMSP would like to work with Higher Education departments to find ways to increase the numbers of students with AS/A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics qualifications. FMSP Area Coordinators are involved in promoting mathematics to 14-19 year olds, organising enrichment events and making presentations about careers involving mathematics. Most of the Area Coordinators are based in universities and would welcome opportunities to collaborate on ways to encourage more students continuing to study mathematics.

    In addition we would like to work with Higher Education departments to provide better information to students about the mathematics in degree courses. We are working with HE on two projects:

    • Providing clear statements in prospectuses and entry requirements about the usefulness of mathematics;
    • Producing resources for students and teachers to illustrate how A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics is applied in degree coures.

    If you would like more details of this work or would like to offer your support, then please contact Claire Baldwin, Access to HE Coordinator for the FMSP, contact details can be found at: furthermaths.org.uk/contact.

    Statements Encouraging Mathematics

    With the encouragement of universities, the rises in Mathematics and Further Mathematics numbers are likely to continue.

    University departments who currently do not feel in a position to make Mathematics or Further Mathematics a requirement can still influence prospective students’ choices by highlighting the importance of mathematics in their prospectuses and on their websites.

    The FMSP has collated examples of statements from a variety of university websites and prospectuses that offer encouragement to students considering studying Further Mathematics at AS or A level.

    We suggest a short statement that HE departments could add to their A level entry requirements to indicate to students that studying Mathematics or Further Mathematics would be helpful.

    “The department welcomes applications from students who have studied AS/A level Mathematics (Further Mathematics). Whilst not a requirement, students who have the opportunity to study at least AS (Further) Mathematics should consider doing so as they will be better prepared mathematically for this course.
    If your school or college is unable to offer you tuition or support for Further Mathematics then you should contact the Further Mathematics Support Programme

    Specific examples of entry criteria for Mathematics degrees which encourage Further Mathematics can be found on the FMSP mathematics entry requirements page.