This is the most recently published contribution to the popular A level series originated by the Mathematics in Education and Industry team. The complete series of books is designed to allow students to prepare for a variety of A or AS certifications provided by the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board, including Statistics and Further Mathematics.
This particularly flexible modular scheme is based on credit accumulation. Each text covers the material for a component, which is designed to involve about 45 hours of studentteacher contact time. A full A level mathematics course comprises 12 components which might typically be delivered over 70 teaching weeks. This assumes an allocation of about 7.7 hours per week to the teaching of a single A level subject. Many schools and colleges would consider this more than generous!
Pure Mathematics 1 is the first of three volumes which together cover the subject core for A level Mathematics (the first two cover the core of AS). The modest assumption that students have attained Level 7 of the national curriculum and "have some familiarity" with Level 8 means that the early chapters on problem solving, co-ordinate geometry and trigonometry will be mostly revision for many starting the course.
Nevertheless, the engaging style of the text, with its relevant investigations, pointed quotations and interesting historical or practical notes, clearly shows positive signs of the material having been trialled with real students. As more demanding ideas (of polynomial functions and their graphs, differentiation and elementary integrals) are introduced, the continuity, clarity of explanation and friendly visual layout helps to hold interest and provide reassurance.
This new introductory volume provides a welcome and consistent addition to the earlier titles in the series and will whet the appetite of many teachers who await the day when all the 22 MEI Structured Mathematics books are in print.
Richard Choat is Head of Mathematics at William Ellis School, north-west London, part of the LASWAP Sixth Form Consortium.