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Briefing report for schools and HE

Core Maths offers the opportunity to apply mathematics and statistics to examples from economics, sociology, psychology, chemistry, geography, computing, and business management.

Sir Adrian Smith review of Post-16 Mathematics 2017

Geography students, at GCSE, A level and in their undergraduate studies, use a wide range of mathematical, statistical and data handling techniques to support their geographical studies.

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) recognises the value maths qualifications provide to geography students. This is particularly relevant in the Key Stage 5 phase given the range of demands placed on A Level geography students to collect, analyse, review and critically
assess data from different primary and secondary sources.

The Society has also been pleased to see the proportion of geography undergraduates with A Level Mathematics rise from around 15% in the early 2000s to ~20% in recent years.

The Geography and Core Maths project aims to:

  • build support for the approximately 80% of young geographers who do not study maths beyond the age of 16
  • raise awareness of how Core Maths can support geography students during their A Levels and transition to undergraduate studies
  • provide CPD online resources and other support for geography teachers

This project builds on and develops the Society’s Data Skills in Geography Project.

Core Maths focuses on the application of maths to situations that students are likely to come across in future life, work and study and will enable students to have greater confidence in working with the mathematical and statistical techniques they encounter in A Level geography and beyond.

Charlie Stripp, Chief Executive of Mathematics in Education and Industry

Why Core Maths?

First introduced in 2015, Core Maths has been designed for post- 16 students who achieved a level 4 in GCSE Mathematics and are not studying Mathematics A Level. It requires 180 hours of guided learning (the same as an AS) and provides a student with UCAS points, with an A grade in Core Maths providing 20 points.

There are a number of Core Maths specifications, all of which aim to:

  • deepen competence in the selection and use of mathematical methods and techniques
  • develop confidence in representing and analysing authentic situations mathematically and in applying mathematics to address related questions and issues
  • build skills in mathematical reasoning and communication

In addition, some universities now provide alternative entry offers which reduce one of the entry grades required by students who, in addition
to the course requirements, attain grade B or above in a Level 3 mathematics qualification.

We were a pilot centre for Core Maths and we have really noticed how much better our Core Maths students cope in geography with stats and the NEA.

Simon Holland CGeog, Head of Geography, Bilborough College

I work with insurers and Bank of England, where geo-spatial analysis is critical to helping the UK become resilient to climate change and extreme weather. Numerically skilled geographers make ideal candidates for jobs in this area, either doing the modelling or translating it for managers and decision makers.

Dr John Hillier, Reader in Physical Geography, Loughborough University

Statistics needs to be more widely and better taught in our schools and universities, and embedded in geography. I am very
pleased that RGS-IBG is working alongside teachers to develop the data skills of geography students so they have a better understanding of mathematics and statistics.

Baroness Lynda Chalker, Past President, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

This project is funded by the DfE through the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme (AMSP), which is a government-funded initiative, managed by MEI, providing national support for teachers and students in all state-funded schools and colleges in England. It aims to increase participation in AS/A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and Core Maths, and to improve the teaching of these qualifications


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Geog and Core Maths briefing report


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