Monthly Archives: January 2015

STEM grants for Teachers

From the National STEM Centre “The Ri and the Causeway Foundation are offering UK schools grants of up to £500 to host a show, talk, workshop, debate, challenge or other STEM activity to supplement their students’ classroom activities.

Grants of up to £500 are being offered to eligible state-funded schools, academies and FE colleges in the UK to take part in an Enrichment and Enhancement (E&E) STEM activity from the STEM Directories before July 2015.

The Scheme is now open and the deadline for applications is 9th February 2015 at 5pm. For more information and to apply, visit the STEM Directories website.

Priority will be given to schools meeting certain criteria – please see the grant terms for more details.”

London Mathematical Society 150th Anniversary

From the LMS “The talks will be given by mathematicians at the cutting-edge of mathematics research, whose successes underpin some of the most exciting technological developments we take for granted today. Additionally, the event will feature speakers who use mathematics in other exciting ways, such as in the making of the TV series Dr Who and Sherlock, and films such as Life of Pi and Harry Potter. Click on the tabs above to find out more about the speakers and the full Launch programme.”

London Mathematical Society Grants for Teachers

1) Small Grants for Education (from £600 to £800):
This grant is to stimulate interest and enable involvement in mathematics from Key Stage 1 to 5 (and beyond) by enhancing and enriching mathematical study beyond the curriculum, engaging the public with mathematics and encouraging unusual ways of communicating mathematics.

2) Teacher CPD Grants (up to £400):
This grant is here to provide opportunities for mathematics teachers to attend training which is specially mathematical. It is intended to facilitate mathematical professional development to allow teachers in UK schools to develop their subject knowledge, engage in a deeper understanding of how to develop mathematical thinking, appreciate the interconnectivity of mathematical topics, update themselves on mathematical curriculum reform and the use of technology where appropriate.


Brief Outline:

A free website which provides tasks which are laid out in a form which can easily be projected or printed and given straight to students. Each task comes with detailed teachers notes which give some background as to why the task might be useful, suggested ways to lead students through the task and any necessary answers or examples of possible answers. Many of the tasks can be adapted to other topics. The tasks are arranged by topic for AS and A level Core.

How to Use them:

As suggested by the name, the tasks are designed to be interesting starting points for topics. I, however, tend to find students get more out of them if they already have some knowledge of a topic. I find the tasks are great for consolidation and for connecting together ideas. They often encourage students to think things through and generate questions. Many of the tasks can be taken to varying degrees of complexity and hence provide differentiation by outcome.

Some of my favourites:

Risp 10- More Venn Diagrams

A great way for students to consolidate knowledge of straight lines or quadratics. Can be used as a starter with some discussion about what properties are needed to fit each section, or as a plenary to check knowledge of properties.

Risp 24- 3 Fact Triangles

I use this as an introduction to C2 Trigonometry. It allows students to recap knowledge of SOHCAHTOA and non-right angled triangles. I tend to find students need to recap their knowledge of non-right angled triangles. I often adapt this slightly…first I give students time to find as many triangles as they can. We draw these together as a class with discussion about how students approached the problem (strategy) as well as what makes the triangles mathematically different. I then tend to pick a selection of the triangles (including right-angled and non right-angled) and ask students in pairs to work out as much information as they can about those triangles.

Risp 29- Odd One Out

This can be adapted for use with many different topics. Students can argue why they think on of three things is the odd one out and there are often different answers depending on your explanation and reasons. I like using this when discussion properties of functions in Core 3.



Well, apart from the need to support candidates whose offers require STEP grades, STEP papers provide rich problem solving questions to extend the high achievers. It is a respected qualification, and I find that not only potential mathematicians want to have a go, but so do physicists, engineers and computer scientists.

When STEP?

Traditionally, students take STEP alongside their A2 exams, and in order to meet UCAS requirements from Cambridge, Warwick, Bath, Bristol and an increasing (it seems to me) number of other universities. But by tackling it early, it could be used to enhance a UCAS application, and in any case, alongside MAT and PAT preparation, looking at STEP questions during the AS year can challenge students independently of any demands made by universities.


The best place to start is obviously the admissions website, the admissions website where you will find comprehensive guidance on the whys and wherefores of STEP, including a link to the STEP specification on the Cambridge Assessment website, where all the key dates, fees, test centres and other administrative details can be found.

There are also links from this site to the very useful Advanced Problems in Mathematics book can be downloaded – a collection of STEP problems with hints and worked solutions, written by Stephen Siklos. This can be used by students individually, or used as a class resource. The two-tier support – hint and then solution – provides excellent scaffolding (for the teacher, as well as student in some cases!) There is a similar booklet of problems – Advanced Problems in Core Mathematics – by the same author. Both contain a lot of Good Advice to students, many of whom will be facing problems outside their normal comfort zone.

Other useful sites include a new area on the Nrich website, the Nrich STEP site which gives students support with specific topics, as well as advice on preparation for interviews, and general problem solving support. It seems very much geared to individuals, and is comprehensive in its scope.

In addition to this, the Cambridge Mathematics Education Project‘s (CMEP) pilot site has a large selection of STEP, MAT and old O and A level questions sorted by topic, with full solutions. The site also contains resources that can be used at all levels of Post 16 mathematics. To gain access to the site your school will need to email and ask to become an affiliate school.

Meikleriggs website has long been providing worked solutions (handwritten at that) to STEP problems, giving us all a good model for how our answers should look. Integral, the FSMP website from MEI also has worked solution for STEP problems in its STEP area.