I’ve received my 688 page textbook (AQA GCSE Mathematics for Higher Sets– Longman/Pearson) and just had time to scan through to gain some first impressions. The syllabus is wider and deeper than I remember (this is not very scientific –its more than 30 years since I sat my Maths O Level). However the textbook itself is a lot clearer and more colourful than my old textbooks.

The textbook is divided into 3 sections:-

Unit 1 — Statistics and Number (calculator allowed)

This covers using and interpreting numbers including fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, probability and an introduction to Statistics. At first sight I will find this unit the most straightforward. It seems to be day to day use of numbers.

Unit 2 — Number and Algebra (calculator NOT allowed)

This Unit will be more challenging. I remember the basics of algebra but I’ll certainly have to re-learn “Sequences and Proof” and “Quadratic Equations”

Unit 3 — Geometry and Algebra (calculator allowed)

I think this will be the most challenging. I seem to have forgotten lots of the terminology and I was never comfortable with geometry beyond simple shapes and formulae.

I’m really impressed with the textbook and how each topic is explained with clear worked examples. The biggest change since my maths O Level is that every lesson is sub-divided into the Maths GCSE grades. I’m studying the higher level book with covers grades D to A*. Each lesson starts at the lowest level (grade D) and steadily works through to the higher levels, C, B, A and A*. This is made very clear as each paragraph is flagged with the relevant grade. This same method is used for all exercises and review exercises. In this way you know, at all times, and for all topics to which grade you are working. So far example if you struggle with Maths but you need a Grade C to get your university place you may focus your effort to ensure you have at least a Grade C level of understanding but not get too hung-up if you struggle with some Grade A/A* lessons/questions.

Is the reason that Maths GCSE grades have improved, despite the syllabus being harder than the old Maths O Level, the fact that the measuring of pupils’ performances has enabled teaching and teaching materials to be more tailored to suit each individual’s requirements? I’d be interested to hear the views of other parents or teachers.