Promoting Further Mathematics
Students who enjoy mathematics and who plan to study AS/A level Mathematics in year 12 should have the opportunity to consider studying AS/A level Further Mathematics.
Similarly, students in year 12 who decide they want to study for a degree in a mathematically-rich subject area such as engineering, science, computing, finance/economics, and mathematics itself, should also have the opportunity of AS Further Mathematics in year 13.
Schools and colleges can help provide information and raise awareness about the benefits of studying A level Further Mathematics. The FMSPW can support schools and colleges to promote the uptake of Further Mathematics.
Advantages of studying Further Mathematics
Students need to be made aware of the advantages that studying Further Mathematics can give them.
The following are some successful strategies used by schools/colleges to generate interest and enthusiasm, and boost recruitment for Further Mathematics.
- Displays highlighting careers making use of Mathematics and Further Mathematics. Please see our Careers page for more information.
- Providing information about degree courses in mathematically-rich subjects where Further Mathematics is essential or highly desirable. Please see our Universities section for more information about entry requirement.
- Extending and enriching the GCSE Mathematics curriculum. For example, offering Level 3 Additional Mathematics alongside the study of GCSE Mathematics introduces students to more advanced topics and helps to build their confidence and enthusiasm for mathematics.
- Organising and/or attending enrichment events and activities helps to generate interest in mathematics and provides students with information about careers and progression to university.
Your local FMSPW Area Coordinator organises enrichment events for students designed to promote the study of Mathematics and Further Mathematics post-GCSE. If your school is registered with the FMSPW then you will receive information about these events. It may also be possible to arrange for someone to come to your school/college to speak to your students. Please contact your local FMSPW Area Coordinator if you would like to discuss this.
Why Offer Further Mathematics?
A level Further Mathematics has consistently been one of the fastest growing A level subjects over the last 11 years.
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 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.
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 FMSPW. 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.
Making the Case for Further Mathematics
This information and these resources are provided to support mathematics departments in making the case for A level Further Mathematics provision in their institution.
To Students and their Parents
Studying Further Mathematics:
- is likely to increase their enjoyment of mathematics and improve their grade in A level Mathematics;
- broadens their mathematical skills and promotes deeper mathematical thinking;
- helps ensure a successful progression to mathematics-based subjects at university;
- is a requirement for entry to prestigious mathematics-based courses at leading universities and improves their chances of an offer at many others;
- is a way to make their university application stand out;
- is not just for students who want to become engineers or physicists.
Any student applying to study a science, technology, engineering, or other mathematics-related degree, such as economics, should consider taking Further Mathematics to at least AS level. AS level in Further Mathematics is accessible to lots of students. The AMSP website has some useful information on careers, degrees and apprenticeships open to students who have studied A/AS level Further Mathematics.
Those students who had studied Further Mathematics to A or AS level standard reported coping better with the mathematical content of the degree, and as such perceived that they required less additional support throughout their studies.
Mind the Gap report 2010 – Institute of Physics
To Senior Leaders
- The number of students taking A level Further Mathematics has increased each year for 13 years;
- Further Mathematics is one of the facilitating subjects as described by the Russell Group and the DfE;
- A school/college that does not offer Further Mathematics is restricting the opportunities of some students wishing to apply for Mathematics, Physics and Engineering degrees at more prestigious universities;
- High achieving GCSE students may move to another school/college in order to study Further Mathematics;
- Further Mathematics is often taken as a 4th A level subject.
- AS Further Mathematics is a useful option and is accessible to most A level Mathematics students;
- The opportunity to teach Further Mathematics is useful in the recruitment and retention of enthusiastic and well-qualified mathematics teachers;
- The experience of teachers and the FMSPW in providing tuition to students in Further Mathematics also shows that taking Further Mathematics can have a significant positive impact on A level Mathematics performance;
- "Students who take both maths and further maths achieve substantially higher grades in their maths than comparable students who take maths alone" is the conclusion of ALIS, the Advanced Level Information System;
Further Mathematics can be provided in cost-effective ways with support from the FMSPW
- The FMSPW provide free teaching materials through the Integral Online Resources.
- Schools and colleges can access high-quality, professional learning through the FMSPW to develop A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics teaching and learning.
- FMSPW Area Coordinators offer free advice and support to teachers.
- The FMSPW helps schools and colleges to work together to offer Further Mathematics and provides direct tuition, either face-to-face or online.
Who Should Study Further Mathematics?
Further Mathematics is a suitable course for many more students than just for the top A level Mathematics students.
AS level Further Mathematics is accessible to any student capable of passing A level Mathematics. Any student planning to take a degree with significant mathematical content will benefit enormously from taking AS Further Mathematics. New ideas such as complex numbers and matrices occur in the first year of many undergraduate STEM degree courses. Studying these at A level together with two more applied modules will help students get off to a good start with their degree studies.
In Wales 2017 around 14% of all A level Mathematics students also took A level Further Mathematics. So it is likely that if you have students taking A level Mathematics then a small number of these would also benefit from studying Further Mathematics to at least AS level.