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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:48 pm 
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Location: Cheshire
My son is expected to get a good to high A* at GCSE Maths, but his teachers have said that he may struggle at A level FM, he did not make the x-class that does iGCSE FM based on a exam sat in yr 9. In 2014 16 candidates took the gcse FM all got A's with distinctions.

He wants/needs to do FM so to keep the door open for the most competitive Unis for Computer Science .

I get the feeling they are only interested in those who are dead certs of A* e.g last yr,at A2, 6 candidates took it with 5xA* and 1xA, it seems to me they are more interested in their own interest then my son's interest but I am mindful that they could be right and it would be unfair on him to put him through such a tough subject where he could end up being miserable and out of his depth.
Having spoken to him he finds some of the more basic maths boring and quite enjoys thing like "proofs" for example the quad equation or co-sine rule, unfortunately he can be quite error prone in simple thing like forgetting to change signs when rearranging simple equations. :roll:

I think if they will allow him to do it because he will fulfill the criteria of A* at GCSE to do the subject at FM( A is the criteria for normal Maths), but is it in his best interest?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:01 pm 
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We allow anyone with an A* to do Further Maths - it is nowhere near as difficult as it used to be. It will still be modular so he will have the option of stopping at AS.

It really annoys me when some schools only allow the 'elite' to do it ...

By doing maths and further maths there is also the opportunity to adjust the applied modules to get the best result.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:18 pm 
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Could he spend some time over the summer break doing some prep?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:36 pm 
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The “iGCSE FM” to which you refer will be the Edexcel qualification that is taken by some year 11 students at some schools in addition to GCSE or iGCSE. This is a help to anyone doing AS or A Level maths, but it helps with the standard Maths AS and A Levels, much more than with Further Maths AS and A Level. The “FM” name given by Edexcel is therefore a bit confusing as it doesn’t mimic any of the AS or A Level Further Maths modules. Therefore it must not be used as a necessary knowledge for Further Maths AS or A Level.

Further Maths is by some margin the A Level with the highest proportion of top grades awarded. More than 25% of Further Maths applicants get A* compared to about 16% for “standard” Maths. This compares with 1% for Media studies, 6% for English and 9% for sciences being awarded the A* grade.

Yes, some schools do tend to restrict entry to the course to only those they see as the very best.

You ask “is it in his best interest” to do AS and A level Further Maths. Well, no University makes Further Maths a fixed prerequisite for a course (none that I’m aware of) but it is a very well-respected A level and any admissions officer for a numerate undergraduate course will think very highly of a Further Maths qualification. If your son has any ambition for such a course, then it is in his interest to do Further Maths over a non-numerate subject.

You say his teachers say he “may struggle” with A Level Further Maths; challenge them to explain; they do know your son and they may be right. However your comments about him finding some Maths boring do make me think he might be the sort who would do well in Further Maths.

I suggest you talk to his teachers.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:46 pm 
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Location: Reading
Probably not so relevant now as this was nearly 30 years ago, I know times have changed.
My school didn't have a sixth form so you either went to the sixth form college or another school sixth form. I opted for the sixth form college, and was asked if I wanted to do FM, alongside maths, physics and chemistry. Why not! I said. If I struggled I could always have given it up. Two years later, A in maths, D in FM. Wasn't included in any of my offers, so didn't spend as much time on it. Came in very useful during my engineering degre so glad I took it.

One lad from my school, who was always no 1 in maths, decided to go to the sixth form at the other school. He was told he couldn't do FM because it's very difficult. It was a small sixth form too. He went on to do a maths degree.

I suspect that unis don't demand it as a lot of schools don't offer it. I know only a few in our area do.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:29 pm 
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Location: Cheshire
I think when they say he will struggle at FM ,I think what they mean is he will most likely not get an A* and maybe not even an A ,and that "simply will not do!!"

Indies live and die on their A*/A results at iGCSE and A level results.

FM is a separate class to the Maths class ,they do all of the normal A level Maths syllabus/modules in lower sixth and takes up 4 lessons every school day! so the pace is furious, so maybe they think he may slow the whole class down ?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:42 pm 
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Yes I have some similar memories - from 40 years ago I'm afraid. I went to a small (but good) rural Comprehensive in Yorkshire. I know that I was the first person to do Further Maths in the history of the school; the school was supportive but I had to do quite a bit of the work by myself.

Yes, nowadays, there are still some schools that don't do Further Maths. But any head of Maths with an ounce of ambition would jump at the chance to teach Further Maths and so up the status of his/her school. If anyone reading this post is told by their school that Further Maths is not offered - go to see the head of Maths and ask to do it!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:10 pm 
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Any school can offer Further Maths throught FMSP http://www.furthermaths.org.uk/ so there is absolutely no excuse!

I have taught all 18 modules at some point as different students want different combinations.

Further Maths IS a required A level for some maths degrees ...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 7:00 pm 
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Location: Cheshire
Spoken to Head of Maths today, she feels he could, with hard work reasonably be expected to get an A at FM but A* would be exceeding all expectations, however A* should be his aim at standard Maths, he could drop the full A level FM after AS if he wanted.

The good news is, he got a Gold at Intermediate Maths Challenge test they did recently :D


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:51 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
If he is able to get Gold in one of those Maths challenges but is possibly bored enough with some GCSE maths to make silly errors he sounds like he could potentially be a talented mathematician who just needs to learn the value of checking and double checking things he finds straightforward. There is a difference between being "good at maths" and being "good at sums"! Get him perhaps to practice putting the answer back into the equations for a reality check rather than racing through. No reason at all for him not to do FM


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