Core Maths

Core Maths is an umbrella term that refers to six level 3 mathematics qualifications. Core Maths has been designed to be relevant and valuable preparation for the mathematics used in life, further study and employment. These qualifications were introduced in 2014 as a result of recommendations made in reports such as Mathematical Needs and Is the UK an Outlier?.

Core Maths has been designed for students who have passed GCSE Mathematics at grade 4 or above, but who have not chosen to study AS or A level Mathematics. Around 250,000 students each year who pass GCSE Mathematics do not study any mathematics in the sixth-form.

Studying Core Maths in the sixth-form helps students develop their quantitative and problem-solving skills, which gives them confidence in understanding the mathematical content in other course they are taking, and helps them become better informed citizens, able to make sense of the information they will be presented with in employment, further study or later life.

These qualifications are suitable for students intending to follow various routes into higher education, vocational training or business and industry. For example, they could provide a grounding for students entering higher education in subjects such as geography, history or biology, for those choosing vocational training, for example in construction, leisure and tourism or hospitality and catering, for those undertaking teaching qualifications, or for those planning to do apprenticeships, such as in the manufacturing industry.

Report from the ACME expert panel Oct 2013

The Smith Review of post-16 mathematics education , July 2017, recommended all schools and colleges should provide access to a Core Maths qualification within their institution. The report states:

The Russell Group’s ‘Informed Choices’ – the Russell Group of 24 leading UK universities’ guide to making decisions about post-16 education – has publicly endorsed the development; additionally, at the time of drafting this report, a total of 43 universities had shown their individual support for core maths, including 20 Russell Group universities and 23 others.

The Russell Group’s Informed Choices report encourages students to take Core Maths:

Russell Group universities value mathematics skills for many different degree courses and many have GCSE or equivalent requirements. Mathematical and statistical problem solving, data analysis and interpretation skills can be useful for a wide variety of undergraduate degrees, and a Core Maths qualification may help you to improve and maintain these skills, especially if you are not taking AS or A-level Maths/ Further Maths.

The Core Maths qualifications

The Core Maths qualifications are equal in size to an AS level qualification and are graded A-E. They also have the same number of UCAS tariff points as an AS level qualification.
There are currently six qualifications that are known collectively as Core Maths qualifications.

They were originally trialled by a group of early adopter schools and colleges, and were first examined in 2016 with approximately 3,000 students entering the qualifications; numbers taking the qualifications have risen since then.

In 2016-17 the number of schools and colleges offering Core Maths was over 650 and there was around 4500 students who passed Core Maths in summer 2017. The new Advanced Maths Premium funding provides £600 per student for every additional student studying a level 3 mathematics qualification, and this includes Core Maths qualifications.

More information about Core Maths can be found in this Core Maths Factsheet.

Resources to support the teaching of Core Maths

STEM library - Core Maths resources: these resources were developed by the Core Maths Support Programme, CMSP, which ended in July 2017. There are a wide selection of lesson ideas and resources to support teachers.

Nuffield Resources for Core Maths: Nuffield Maths resources useful to support the teaching of Core Maths.

Nrich - Core Maths: a rich variety of resources linked to the different areas of the Core Maths curriculum, such as problem solving, finance, graphs and statistics.

MEI Critical Maths resources: Resources designed to enable students to think about real problems using mathematics, which are suitable for all Core Maths specifications.

MEI Core Maths resources: These resources were developed for the OCR(MEI) Core Maths qualifications and are free to centres offering these courses.