Well, what a palaver! Very glad to hear that Ofqual has capitulated and will, after all, be awarding the centre-assessed grades (CAGs) rather than the "Computer says no" grades generated by their algorithms.
This will of course be a huge relief to GCSE candidates too.
Of course there will still be inconsistencies - some centres will have assessed their students more optimistically than others - but at least all the grades will be based on what the teachers, who knew their students personally rather than seeing them as just numbers - believed were realistically achievable. It was always accepted that this year's results would be abnormal in any case, so why not just base the grades on known capabilities rather than what a presumed identical cohort did last year?
Now, after four days of panic over university places, a lot of the agreements reached must be null and void. Some people will get onto their first-choice courses after all, so they no longer need to take the course that they'd accepted as second best. That remains to be sorted out - and I suspect it will result in many popular courses being oversubscribed since more students will have achieved their offer grades than the universities anticipated when they were making their conditional offers at the beginning of the year. I hope this can be sorted out with considerably less pain than the process has entailed so far!
So if you've benefited from the U-turn, congratulations! And if your grades still aren't what you hoped for then it's disappointing but please try not to see it as the end of the world; read my last blog post, posted on results day.
How has the fiasco affected you?
So today was the day that this year's A-level candidates have awaited with trepidation for months now.
If you got the grades you were hoping for then that's brilliant news - congratulations and well done!
If, on the other hand, your results were disappointing, you have my commiserations. However, please try not to view it as a catastrophe. Yes, it's a major inconvenience - but, you never know, in the long run it may even turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to you!
Bear in mind that:
Although I appreciate that your situation is different from what any previous cohort has been through, it may interest you to know that my A-level results weren't good enough for my first-choice university so I ended up at my insurance choice. I had the time of my life there and couldn't possibly have had a better time at my first choice!
My new course is now online!
If you know of anyone who's intending to start A-level Maths this autumn then please share this post with them.
You can see the promotional video here:
The main element of the course is almost 10 hours of specially-recorded video lessons - and they'll take considerably longer than that to actually work through properly since there are lots of practice opportunities built in. You can see samples of the content at https://youtu.be/iOUowounAsY (solving equations) and https://youtu.be/zWzPkSFASj8 (Pythagoras). There are other supporting materials too, including copies of the PowerPoints that I use in the videos.
It completely avoids the common problems of live webinars - not being available at the right time, tech problems impeding communication, not being able to keep up with the pace of delivery - by having everything there for you to work through at your own pace, at a time that suits you. You can pause, rewind and replay any video whenever you like, right up until next summer.
LIMITED-TIME INTRODUCTORY OFFER: Anyone who signs up THIS WEEK gets the whole lot for less than the price of a single hour's 1-to-1 tuition at A-level. It works out at well under £4 per hour of playback time!
Click on the button below to enrol - I look forward to hearing from you!
Hi, I hope you're well and haven't been affected too badly by the ongoing Covid crisis. Things have been ticking over here, though the cancellation of summer exams meant that I lost most of my exam students a couple of months earlier than anticipated, and things have remained fairly quiet on the tutoring front. It's not really practical for me to organise social distancing measures in my home so I'm staying online for the time being, and have decided that I'll continue to offer an online option even after I do return to face-to-face tutoring.
What I'm focusing on right now is my exciting new venture (well, exciting to me, anyway!): I'm developing a course - Preparing for A-level Maths - to support those who are soon to start A-level Maths and want to make sure that they're up to speed on the GCSE content that will be assumed prior knowledge for A-level. The course consists primarily of a suite of videos covering all the relevant parts of the GCSE, pre-recorded so that you can work through them at your own pace, and including practice questions for all topics. I considered a series of live webinars but decided to do it this way instead, because with live webinars it's so easy to miss content, whether that's due to tech issues, not being able to keep up with the speed of delivery, or simply not being able to attend at the set time. I want my customers to feel that they are getting full value for their investment! The platform is Google Classroom, which is very easy to use, and a subscription will last until next summer so you can revisit the content as many times as you like until then.
I hope to launch the course within the next week, with a half-price introductory offer for the first few subscribers, so keep an eye out! Feel free to comment below, or drop me a line via the contact form, if you'd like me to let you know when it goes live.
We've just had the announcement that there will be no GCSE or A-level summer exams in 2020 - latest Government announcement here (opens in a new window). I'm told that this is the first time this has happened since the exams system was instigated in 1888, so we really are in uncharted territory. It's come as a huge shock and a great disappointment to a lot of people, but it may not be as bad as you think.
Instead of sitting exams, candidates are to be awarded a grade "which fairly reflects the work they have put in" based on their teachers' assessments, taking into account the results of mock exams and other assessments. The exam boards will then process these assessed grades and come up with a final grade, so the grade you are given may not quite match what your teacher has submitted.
The announcement says that the aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July. Teachers will have to be given guidelines to work to, and then time to process the information they hold and submit their grades; we don't know what the timescales are but my guess is that the deadline for the teachers' submissions will be sometime around the end of May or early June - which is when you'd have been sitting the exams anyway.
If you think you deserve a higher grade than your past performance suggests then you could try speaking to your teacher and asking if there's anything you can do to demonstrate your improvement before the deadline. If you're lucky then they may give you an assessment to do in exam conditions at home (though that may prove too difficult to police). A few weeks' additional study, possibly with support from a tutor, might be enough to boost your performance, especially if it's been a while since you had a formal assessment in school/college. But don't just pester your teacher because you want a higher grade; teachers are under even more pressure than usual at the moment, and you need to be able to prove that you deserve it.
If that doesn't work out, and you are given a lower grade than you feel you deserved, then there will be an appeals process, and also you "will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again".
So you could even view this as a reprieve, especially if you feel you've left it a bit late before pulling your finger out and doing some serious exam preparation: you'll have an extra four or five months to prepare for an exam where you can truly demonstrate your ability, and in the meantime will be given a temporary grade as a stop-gap. And a lot of the other candidates will have done a lot less work than you over the summer!
If you're wary of using a tutor because you've never tried online tuition before then don't be afraid to give it a go. There are many tutors who only work online, and most of the rest of us have adapted quickly to the current circumstances and are also able to offer an online service, using video conferencing, screen sharing and online whiteboards. You can find instructions for BitPaper and Zoom, the software that I use, here - have a play and see how easy it is to get to grips with. Of course you also have the option of going it alone - your school teacher will still be offering remote support as best they can - but a tutor will be able to give you more comprehensive peronalised support. If you pick someone local to you (and who isn't online-only) then you'll have the option of moving to face-to-face sessions once we're over the worst of the current crisis.
During the 2018 Easter holidays, I will be offering a series of small group intensive revision sessions, each lasting 2½ hours (including a 15-minute break) and targeting a particular area of the Higher GCSE specification. Maximum class size in each case will be 5 and the fee will be £35 per student. Classes will take place at my home near the Robin Hood Island.
The sessions will cover the following areas (or as much of them as we have time for):
Fri 30th March (Good Friday): Trigonometry (Geometry): SOHCAHTOA, sine rule, cosine rule, triangle area, exact trig values, trig graphs, arcs and sectors
Tues 3rd April: Grouped data (Statistics): Mean, mode and median from grouped frequency tables; cumulative frequency diagrams and box plots; histograms
Thursday 5th April: Circle theorems and Vectors (Geometry): Use and proof of circle theorems; Vector terminology, adding/subtracting vectors, multiplying by a scalar, using vectors in geometric arguments and proofs
Tues 10th April: Probability (Statistics): Probability basics, Venn diagrams and set notation, listing strategies, 2-way tables, tree diagrams, conditional probability, independent events.
If you're doing the Higher IGCSE then all the topics listed above are also relevant to you, with the exception of circle theorem proofs, box plots and 2-way tables.
Full details can be found in this PDF document (also accessible via the Resource Bank link on the home page).
If you'd like to sign up for any of these sessions then please get in touch, either via the contact form on this site or by email. I'll need the following information from you:
Wow, has it really been that long since I last posted a blog update?
This year things have been ticking over nicely with around 12-15 regular tutees at any one time, plus a few on the waiting list for cancellations and holiday slots. I have three who are doing the second year of the old A-level and the rest are in Years 10 and 11 or doing GCSE resits, though enquiries from Year 12 students doing the new A-level have started to trickle in now. Evening slots are full up but I can still fit in a couple more daytime students.
I've just updated my resource lists for students: They can be downloaded here for GCSE and here for the new A-level. Lots of useful stuff there to help with your exam preparation. A good web page that I've just discovered for practising a wide range of GCSE skills is Maths4Everyone's Games page. Bookmark it on your phone and do a quiz whenever you have a few minutes to kill. Try to beat your previous high score on each quiz!
On the social side, I'm still enjoying the musical theatre stuff: in November I played Liza the maid in Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure, and this April I'm in The Mikado. This is another show that I did at school - 32 years ago now! - and I can still remember most of the chorus content but there's a lot more to learn too, as I have a much bigger part this time: I'm playing Pitti-Sing, one of the Three Little Maids. STAMPS' Spring show is a proper social event, with the audience seated around tables and served up with a fish & chip supper by the cast during the interval. If you're in the Solihull area 18th - 21st April then please consider coming along!
Exam season is over, and most of us are winding down to enjoy the summer break. I have a few slots left for new starters in September so please get in touch if you're local and looking for Maths tuition!
One of my main tasks over the summer is going to be getting fully up to speed on the new A level specification, which is prescribed by Ofqual and so is the same across all exam boards, although of course there will be small differences. The bulk of it is similar to the old one and there isn't supposed to be any increase in difficulty but, as with the new GCSE, there's more emphasis on problem solving and proof - and also on mathematical modelling. Decision Maths is completely disappearing (though it will still feature in some Further Maths specifications) and the applied maths element - still a third of the overall total - will consist only of Statistics and Mechanics. The big change in Statistics is the use of "large data sets" which vary depending on which exam board you're with. The student is expected to be familiar with the data for their particular board, and a variety of ways of analysing it.
The grade scale will be unchanged, with the lowest pass grade being an E and the highest at A*. There will still be an AS level available, but many schools/colleges are not entering their students for it, because it costs money and doesn't count towards the A level result. An AS level is now worth 40% of an A level in terms of UCAS points. (There will no longer be any such thing as an A2 level.)
If you want to keep your Maths skills ticking over during the summer, regardless of whether you're just finishing Year 9 or about to go on to A-level, take a look at Corbettmaths 5-a-day. Each day, answer the questions for the grade level that you're working at - or try the next level up - and then check your answers against the worked solutions. This is a great resource to keep you up to speed on a wide range of topics throughout the year, even though your lessons at school are likely to be focusing on a particular topic for a week or two at a time.
Well, GCSE Paper 1 is out of the way, and there are a couple of weeks until Paper 2, with Paper 3 just a few days after that. Although nobody can predict with any certainty what will be on the remaining papers, it makes sense to focus on the topics and skills that haven't already been tested, and of course these will vary from one board to another and between the Foundation and Higher Tiers.
Starting with the Edexcel GCSE, the amazing people at JustMaths have put together sets of practice papers, complete with examiner reports and mark schemes, covering the stuff that wasn't in the first paper. You can find them at http://justmaths.co.uk/2017/05/26/best-guess-papers-yeah-right/
This post on Twitter by the equally amazing Corbettmaths lists the topics not yet tested by AQA; the videos referred to can be found at https://corbettmaths.com/ and the promised papers are now online at https://corbettmaths.com/2017/05/28/aqa-papers-2-3-predictions-2017/.
The Edexcel IGCSE is a little easier to predict as it's an older spec and there are only two papers. Key topics that have been predicted for Higher Paper 2 are:
Thanks go to the folks on the Facebook "Maths Tutors UK" group for the info in this post!
As most of my tutees are acutely aware, the exams are now almost upon us. Here are a few tips to help you get maximum marks in whatever Maths exams you may be sitting. My marking experience is mostly on the AQA A-level so that's the basis of my advice, but it holds true for most Maths exams.