New GCSE Maths (9 to 1), coming soon to a school near you…

The new GCSE maths is a genuine attempt to raise standards in Mathematics in secondary schools. The purpose of the new GCSE maths is to develop fluent knowledge and understanding of maths with confidence.

Emphasis on problem solving

The new curriculum is richer and focuses on exploring mathematics – like in the good old days!

The old AO1/AO4 coursework, Additional Mathematics and the GCSE Linked Pair pilot all encouraged students to approach problem solving and face a wider variety of questions. Some of those old style questions are still useful icebreakers.

If (like me) you don’t still have a stack of those massive booklets lying around, you can still find links to old problem solving questions here:

Changes to the foundation tier of the new maths GCSE

Most of us wanted to retain two tiers in the new GCSE – I was deeply concerned when it appeared that maths would become single tier. I remember a collective sigh of relief when the door was left open for two tiers of GCSE maths.

Maths is unique and learnt progressively, preferably in an orderly fashion. In classrooms nationwide, GCSE maths is learnt from different starting positions, and it is right for this to be reflected in the examination. That being said, I wasn’t expecting the increase in difficulty in the foundation tier. Some of the new foundation content is inaccessible for many current higher tier students.

Maths departments may want to familiarise themselves with DfE’s maths subject content and objectives document, and plan in advance for these new requirements. They can then develop a new (yes, new) KS3 curriculum that enables this level of learning to be possible at KS4. The general flavour of the new KS2/3 national curriculum kind of helps with this, but as these were not developed alongside the new GCSE, the transition may not be as smooth as we may expect. So schools (i.e. teachers), may need to fill in the gaps.


Trigonometry at foundation tier

You will notice from page 10, of the document that point 21 is ‘not bold text type’.


This means that foundation students are expected to know the exact value of some special trigonometric ratios.

Here are two neat little tricks for remembering the exact values:




Warm regards,

Eddie Orija

DEddie Orijar Eddie Orija, FIMA CSci, is an experienced teacher, examiner and part of the Oxford Secondary Maths author team.

One thought on “New GCSE Maths (9 to 1), coming soon to a school near you…

  1. tindalfamily says:

    A trick it is (the image), but it works.
    Can anyone explain why this trick gives the correct answers?

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