GCSE Mathematical Thinking: Problem Solving & Reasoning, Oxon

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  • Math Thinking, Oxon
    24th June 2019
    9:00 am - 4:00 pm

This Work Group offers teachers and their departments nationally coordinated support to address the reasoning and problem-solving challenges of the mathematics curriculum and its assessment in the new GCSE.

Many departments will be considering not only the long-term development of these skills across KS3 and into KS4, but also the immediate needs of current KS4 pupils facing the challenges of the new GCSE. This Work Group aims to support both these aspects through professional development activities focusing on practical and accessible classroom-based approaches.

Participation also offers the opportunity to develop departmental professional development processes and produce longer-term improvement plans.

Who is this for?

All secondary maths departments and teachers wishing to begin or continue a programme of professional development to address the reasoning and problem-solving challenges of the mathematics GCSE. The approaches attempt to address not only the longer development of these skills across all teaching but also the needs of current KS4 pupils as they approach GCSE.

In order to maximise the wider impact of the professional development across the department, it is suggested, where possible, that each school sends two members of department, at least one of whom is experienced and has some leadership responsibility within the department.

What is involved?

  • 1 x 1-day and 2 x half-day workshops focused on developing reasoning and problem-solving skills in all lessons.
  • Gap tasks between the workshops will include Lesson Study, allowing wider department participation in the professional development.
  • There will be an evaluation process focusing on the impact of activities on pupils and the wider department.

Intended Outcomes

Participant teachers, and their departments:

  • will acquire a deeper understanding of the role of reasoning and problem solving in the mathematics curriculum, and how these skills are tested at GCSE
  • will broaden their repertoire of classroom approaches to support the development of pupil’s mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills in all lessons
  • will understand how to plan for further improvement to embed and sustain progress in this area.
  • will begin to see pupils demonstrate increased confidence in reasoning and problem-solving while deepening their understanding of the mathematics content itself.

The wider context

Reasoning and problem-solving are still identified by Ofsted as areas of weakness both in teaching and schemes of learning. With the emphasis of the new curriculum on pupils becoming fluent, reasoning mathematically and solving problems, many departments will be considering how best to build these skills as pupils progress from the start of KS3. There will also be a need to support current KS4 pupils as they face the reasoning and problem-solving challenges of the new GCSE questions.

Expectations of participants and their schools

Schools will need to commit to the release of the same nominated teacher(s) for all four workshops and to support them in the gap tasks. This will include supporting wider staff engagement with a Lesson Study between each workshop and 6-8 departmental meetings. The department will also support the participating teachers to summarise the impact of Work Group participation.

Work Group Lead: Julie White-Zamler

Funding: Our DfE grant, via the NCETM, allows us to offer this work group at no charge to delegates




Greenwood Way, Harwell, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 6DL, United Kingdom


Greenwood Way



OX11 6BZ

NB: use OX11 6DL for Sat Nav

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