Supporting Problem Solving

The FMSP is working with a number of universities and schools to improve access for students to local support for higher level mathematical problem solving and STEP/AEA/MAT preparation, so that more students are able to access mathematics courses at leading universities.

The support offered in different areas ranges from one-day intensive problem-solving conferences or revision days, to a programme of weekly twilight sessions. In many areas the FMSP Area Coordinators facilitates these activities and events by advertising to local schools/colleges, providing resources and finding the tutors. The FMSP has provided advice, contacts and resources to help a school, college or university to establish its own provision.

Why STEP, AEA and the MAT?

The FMSP encourages the development of students' mathematical skills through the study of A and AS level Further Mathematics and tackling mathematical problems. The STEP, AEA and MAT examinations provide the motivation and opportunity for some students to develop these skills, practise solving unstructured and novel problems and thereby become more resilient, fluent and flexible in their approach to tackling problems in mathematics. The FMSP believes that improving these skills prepares students very well for higher education courses.

Although only a small number of HE mathematics departments currently include STEP/AEA grades in their conditional offers or require students to take the MAT, most courses would benefit from entrants with improved problemsolving and mathematical skills. The FMSP would like to work with more universities, schools and colleges to develop problem solving skills and provision for supporting STEP,AEA and the MAT across the country. If you would like to discuss how the FMSP might help you establish provision for local students please contact Kevin Lord, FMSP HE liaison coordinator [email protected].

Examples of provision

There are a number of universities, schools and colleges which provide support for problem-solving and help preparing for STEP, AEA and MAT examinations. The FMSP has helped some institutions to establish their provision and provides support and help with coordinating and publicising the provision to local students. Details of the provision known to the FMSP is summarised on Support for STEP/AEA/MAT.

Here are short case studies which illustrate how universities provide support for developing problem – solving skill and STEP/AEA/MAT preparation and the help that the FMSP can provide.

University of Bath

  • Free support for local state school students provided by the university mathematics support service.
  • FMSP advice in the initial set up and ongoing help advertising the provision

Download the University of Bath case study for more details of the provision.

University of Sheffield

  • Free support for local state-school students provided by the university mathematics department and FMSP Area Coordinator as part of the university’s outreach provision
  • Year 12 Problem Solving Club
  • Year 13 STEP and AEA support

Download the University of Sheffield case study for more details of the provision.