The FMSP follows on from the very successful Further Mathematics Network (FMN), which was set up following a 5 year pilot project developed by MEI and funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The FMSP continues and extends the work of the FMN but with greater emphases on professional development, student enrichment and the promotion of A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics.
Over the life of the FM Network, from academic year 2004/5 to the end of academic year 2008/9, the numbers of students taking Further Mathematics qualifications in England rose dramatically. In round numbers, between 2004 and 2009, the number of students taking AS Further Mathematics trebled, increasing from 3761 to 12710 and the number for A level Further Mathematics roughly doubled, from 5443 to 10073. These increases were far greater than for any other mainstream subject.
The Further Mathematics Network made a significant impact through its wider work in supporting the teaching and learning of mathematics for 14-19 year olds. As well as improving students’ access to Further Mathematics by providing tutorial support to students in schools and colleges that could not offer it, the Further Mathematics Network also enabled more schools and colleges to teach Further Mathematics themselves. The following teacher quote describes how the FMN typically worked with schools following on from the pilot phase.
'Thanks to the Further Maths Network, we have finally managed to get Further Maths back onto the timetable at Lymm. Numbers had dwindled so that classes were no longer viable, but in October 2002 it was arranged for one of our gifted mathematicians to be tutored via video-conferencing (during the pilot phase of the FM Network). We were then able to register with the Manchester centre in 2003. Since then numbers have gradually increased, we have moved from AS to A level and now have sufficient numbers to return to timetabled lessons in-house for year 12 in September 2007. Without the help and support of the FM Network this would not have been possible; the students have valued both the tuition and study/revision sessions available to them.'
Jean Helsby, Lymm High School
Encouraging and supporting schools and colleges to teach Further Mathematics themselves is now a major feature of the work of the FMSP.