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Get them used to having a go

Nurturing and boosting your AS groups now is the way to maintain their interest in maths in the future, as Clare Parsons explains

So, there you are, in front of your class of new AS pupils, and some seem to be struggling. In spite of a good grade at GCSE, everyone else seems to be coping better than they are. How do you stop them losing heart?

Nurture and boost their confidence. They may look cool and grown up, but they are still GCSE pupils. Many think that maths is a set of techniques and recipes to regurgitate in an exam. Thinking, experimenting, getting things wrong, are new. Get them used to having a go, making mistakes and discussing them.

Shake things up. Get everyone working together. Most AS lessons now include activity: rotate groups, allocate pairs, get them working co-operatively. Get everyone involved, and doing more maths outside the classroom.

Roll out problem-solving competitions (the Mathematical Association's Problem Pages 14-19 weekly prize puzzle), recruit for trips out (Maths Inspiration lectures), tell them about the UK Mathematics Trust's Senior Maths Challenge, kick-start a self-coaching group.

With TLC, not too many should vote with their feet. But if the message gets out that maths is OK, you may have to assimilate extra peopl *

Clare Parsons is head of maths at Sir George Monoux College in east London

Problem Pages 14-19, pound;9.99, the Mathematical Association: www.m a.org.uk.

Nationwide maths lectures: www.mathsinspiration.com. For UKMT Senior Maths Challenge details: www.mathscomp.leeds.ac.uk

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