Why offer Further Mathematics?

A level Further Mathematics has consistently been one of the fastest growing A level subjects over the last 11 years. Since 2005 the number of students in England taking A level Further Mathematics has risen by more than 2.5 times from 5933 to 15257. The number taking AS level Further Mathematics has risen by more than five times. Further Mathematics is now more popular than A level Law, ICT, Computing, Music, French and German.

The proportion of state-funded schools and colleges with students taking A level Further Mathematics has increased from less than 40% in 2005 to over 65% in 2016.

Further Mathematics is not just for the top A level Mathematics students. AS Further Mathematics is accessible to many students capable of passing A level Mathematics.

There are many very good reasons to offer Further Mathematics.

Supporting A level Mathematics and other subjects

  • Studying Further Mathematics helps students to achieve their best possible A level Mathematics grade, by consolidating and reinforcing their standard A level Mathematics work. The examination board rules for aggregating module scores for A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics ensure that the Mathematics grade is maximised using the applied module scores. The Advanced Level Information System (ALIS), which provides performance indicators for Post-16 students, analysed the results of students studying both A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics and concluded that studying Further Mathematics improved a student's result in A level Mathematics by half a grade on average. See the ALIS document: Predicting and evaluating grades in A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics
  • The additional applied units studied by A and AS level Further Mathematics students support the study of other A level. For example, advanced statistical techniques that are used in Geography and Psychology and mechanics topics in Physics.

Progression to university (and beyond)

  • Students taking A or AS Further Mathematics are better prepared for the transition to mathematically-rich university courses.
  • Some leading university courses include Further Mathematics in their offers for places as a requirement, by not offering Further Mathematics you could prevent your students from applying to these courses. Other Universities lower the offer required for students who have studied Further Mathematics. See the universities section for further details on entry requirements for higher education.
  • Studying AS Further Mathematics in year 13 is an excellent option for students who wish to pursue a degree in a STEM subject. As well as introducing them to new topics that they will find useful for their degree course, it is likely to improve their A level Mathematics grade.

Supporting more able students

  • Overwhelmingly, students taking Further Mathematics find it to be an enjoyable, rewarding, stimulating and empowering experience.
  • For more able A level Mathematics students it enables them to distinguish themselves as able mathematicians both for university applications and in the employment market.
  • For students who enjoy mathematics, it provides a challenge and a chance to explore new and/or more sophisticated mathematical concepts.

Retaining able students

  • High achieving GCSE students may be tempted to change school/college for their AS/A levels if your school does not offer them the opportunity to study Further Mathematics.

Raising the profile of mathematics in the school/college

  • Offering Further Mathematics raises the profile of Mathematics across all year groups and often has a positive impact on performance in mathematics across the whole school.
  • You may find it easier to attract and retain well-qualified, enthusiastic teachers.
  • Further Mathematics students can be excellent ambassadors for mathematics throughout the school and in some cases act as mentors, supporting younger students.

Case Studies

In 2015 UCL's Institute of Education undertook research into the wider benefits of introducing A level Further Mathematics. The IoE looked at 4 institutions that had recently established Further Mathematics with support from the FMSP. The report outlines the factors which were important in the successful implementation of the curriculum changes. The researchers found evidence of changes to teacher identity and confidence, departmental identity and changes pedagogy not just for A level but lower down the school.