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Secondary Maths

From 11 onwards I’ve done one of two things with my children. Those who are very good at Maths have moved straight onto a GCSE or IGCSE prep book and taken the exam at 14. Many parents choose Maths as one of the earliest exams to put an able child in for, and if you think this might be the case for your child, it makes sense to do this rather than hold your child back just because he wouldn’t be doing GCSE work in school. Plenty of advanced children have done extremely well in Maths at 13, and even younger.  On the other hand, if you have a child who struggles with Maths, you’ll probably want to work through a more foundational KS3 course such as Letts Key Stage 3 Success in Maths. (I’ve linked to the 2010 version of this book – there is a more recent one but it is not available so cheaply and, as ever, there is barely any difference between the two).

Alternatively (or in addition), you might feel your child needs extra explanations and practice, and for this I would recommend an online course such as Conquermaths. This highly popular programme covers the whole UK Maths syllabus from Reception to A level and is very affordable with a hefty discount for home-educators. In fact, each year it is possible to obtain a group discount via the home-ed exams yahoo group (it works out at about £30 for the year per child to access ALL stages of the course). We have used this at Key Stage 3 for a child who needed more than just a textbook explanation, and will use it this year for the first time through GCSE, in combination with a good textbook.

GCSE/IGCSE Level One of the best textbooks for this level is Alan Smith’s IGCSE Mathematics. If you buy this second hand, make sure you are getting the CD ROM as this has the answers to all the questions – though they should also, fingers crossed, be available here as a google document. If you use this book you will be working beyond GCSE level but amongst parents who use it, it is generally regarded as of a higher standard than Edexcel’s own GCSE textbook. Be careful with the Collins textbooks as they only give you the answers if you buy the Teacher’s Pack for £100 (something I found myself with the Collins Chemistry textbook…).

Past papers As with all these exams, doing plenty of past papers is the key to attaining a good grade. If you mark the papers with the exam board’s mark scheme in hand (and the examiner’s report) you will be able to guide your child towards getting the most marks possible. In Maths, children who find the subject easy often lose marks because they don’t write down their working out (‘It’s all so blindingly obvious, do I really have to write it all down?’ as one of my sons lamented). Yes, you do. It is in fact possible to get every sum right but show no workings and come out with a C, or to get most sums wrong but get most of the working out right and come out with a B. Do both and you’ll get a high grade!


10-13 Maths Curriculum of choice covering KS3 (and/or KS4/GCSE level depending on progress) Conquermaths KS3 and textbook