Tes Maths: Back-to-school activities

Craig Barton
24th August 2018
Maths equipment ready for starting a new year at secondary school

Cover all bases and kick-start another year of teaching maths with this selection of stimulating activities

Happy New School Year!

Hopefully you are feeling rested and recharged after a lovely summer, and ready to face the challenge and delights of another school year. If you want to get them off to a flying start, with fun and engaging activities, but crucially also ones that are productive, challenging and mathematically sound, then you have come to the right place!

The collection of resources below, all created and shared by the kind, generous and incredibly talented members of the Tes Maths community, should cover all bases and help make those first few lessons back fun and productive for all involved. 

I really hope you and your students enjoy them. And if not... well, it will be Christmas before we know it :-)

Craig Barton, Tes Maths Adviser


The Tes Maths Panel have hand-selected four of the very best free resources for every single Key Stage 3 and 4 topic. This is the first place I visit when putting sequences of lessons together, for for the start of the year and for the next 10 months.

Planning for the year

Whether you have a few remaining gaps to be filled in your scheme of work, you need some resources for your homeworks or low-stakes quizzes, or you are just looking for some general inspiration for the coming school year, this selection should have something for you.

Interleaving & spacing the GCSE Mathematics curriculum

Now that i can reflect having completed the first phase of my project (this is intended for our year 9 students. If it works well, i shall embark on phase 2 for year 10) i realise i should have perhaps called this a spacing booklet as it intends to space out the the topics taught throughout the year. It may well be that i use section 3 next year as an interleaving section, using some of the resources from https://whiterosemaths.com/schemes-of-learning/secondary-sols/. I have asked my staff to RAG the topics that students are still not feeling fluent with and use this in my spreadsheet so i can track the spacing for year 10. I have written answers for the first 2 sessions and have set up a rota for my team to complete the rest as they come to teach it. I shall endeavour to remember to upload the most recent versions, feel free to prompt using my twitter handle below if i fall behind!

The project was born as a result of securing an extra 95 minute lesson once a fortnight. Having been inspired by Craig Barton’s podcasts i wanted to improve the “automated stored and organised domain specific knowledge” of my students.

I went through our scheme of work and wrote down the key objectives from EDEXCEL’s GCSE scheme of work. I then wrote a question for most topics, focusing purely on skills. By recording these questions on an excel spreadsheet i was able to track my spacing between topics to (hopefully) maximise the effects on their long term memory.

This is designed to be used for low stakes testing. Each session is broken down into 3 sections:

  1. 5 questions covering topics that are currently being taught to help improve their fluency
  2. 5 questions on retrieval practice
  3. This section came as a result of marking my year 9 assessments. They had completely forgotten the skills associated with fractions, decimals and percentages and so i wanted my students to remember the techniques associated with topics. Knowing the correct strategies will allow them to attempt questions in future … I am most proud of my questions on section 3 from sessions 9 onwards.

I have to thank Craig Barton for his inspiration and (the fantastic) Corbettmaths for giving me permission to use some of his questions to use and adapt within this resource.

Please let me know via @billyads_47 how you use this resource and any suggestions/improvements/tweaks you have made.

By Billyads_47

White Rose Maths - Secondary - 5 Year Plan & Guidance

Welcome to the new five-year scheme of learning for secondary mathematics. We have listened to what teachers have said about our previous Key Stage 3 scheme, and these overviews have been developed by practicing secondary practitioners within the White Rose Maths team in conjunction with other colleagues in schools.

There is a termly plan for each year group from Year 7 to Year 11. Each term is split into two half terms of six weeks, each with a common theme. Every half term is further split into blocks that ensure students spend enough time to get a deep understanding of the topic being covered.

Our new scheme has been designed with interleaving as a key element. For example, Year 7 starts with developing algebraic thinking and further development of algebraic skills is then woven throughout the year so students reinforce and extend their knowledge and understanding.

We firmly believe that students who are successful with number are much more confident mathematicians, so we have continued to emphasise number work throughout. We also recognise, however, that arithmetic can be a barrier to some students accessing other areas of the curriculum, so we have also incorporated the teaching and learning of calculator skills – alongside estimation – throughout the curriculum.

In our opening algebra unit, the exemplar materials in our supporting “small steps” documents are designed with calculators in mind. As well as developing their calculator skills, this is to encourage students to understand the processes of solving equations using inverse operations rather than “spotting” answers.

We also recognise that students enter secondary school with a very wide range of prior attainment. Our scheme is designed so that any student following the main content will have covered all of the GCSE Foundation tier by the end of Year 11 and therefore will have access to a grade 5. Students who have also covered additional Higher content will have access to a Grade 9. We leave it to the professional judgement of our fellow teachers to decide for each class in each unit which aspects of the Higher content to cover. Further support for this planning is provided in our “small steps” guidance documents.
We hope you find the scheme and its supporting materials useful. We look forward to your feedback.

The White Rose Maths Secondary Team

By WRMaths

Brockington College Maths homework booklets

All of the homework booklets I design for my Maths department, free and in one place.

Obviously cannot post answers here, but happy for people to email me for them - a DM on twitter with your email address is the best way to get them.

Note there are a few images borrowed from different places. Apologies for any infringement and please just let me know and I am happy to credit or change as required.
By Peter Mattock

GCSE 9-1 Exam Question Practice (Ratio)

This carefully selected compilation of exam questions has fully-worked solutions designed for students to go through at home, saving valuable time in class.
Click 👉 tes.com/../Exam Question Practice… to download question compilations for more than 50 other topics.
I usually print these questions as an A5 booklet and issue them in class or give them out as a homework. I also make them available for a student who wants to do focused independent study on a topic.
👍If you like this resource, then please rate it and/or leave a comment💬.
If the rate-resource button on this page does not work, then go to your ratings page by clicking here 👉tes.com/.../rate-resources…
By Maths4Everyone

​First lessons

The first maths lesson students have at the start of the year is crucial for setting the expectations of what is to come. Get this right, and the rest of the year should hopefully play out a lot easier. Here is a selection of some of my favourite first lesson ideas and activities.


First week activities

4 activities for the first week back at school. Gives the children a chance to get to know each other and think/learn about themselves. A list of resources is included along with a worksheet and basic templates. The activities also include work that can be used for assessment.
By sphynx thinker

50 ideas for meeting your new class

Collated from various threads on the TES forums, this booklet gives 50 suggestions for activities to do when meeting your new class either on a transition day, or for the first day of term.
By tafkam

Mathematical Name Cards

Perfect starter for your first lesson with a new class, helping you get to know their names. Get the pupils to fold the paper/card along the dashed line then get them to write their name in the empty box. On the other side, pupils have four questions to complete. The name cards can then be displayed over the next few lessons to help you learn your pupils' names. Questions can easily be adapted depending on your class' ability.
By lane1988

Mathematical routines

I have always found establishing routines in lessons to be so important, and I want to get this right from the very start of the year. Whether this be something we do at the start of every lesson, or a regular weekly feature, having something that students expect and even come to look forward to is something I value very highly. Here are some of my favourite resources to support this.

Maths Daily Practice Examples and Template

A series of 5-10 minute arithmetic lesson starters to consolidate and improve written arithmetic skills. Lots of examples from Y6 but also an editable template for other year groups.

I have written about how to use this resource effectively here: https://primarymrandrew.wordpress.com

By PrimaryMrAndrew

100 Mental Maths starters

Designed to jump start Maths lessons. Each slide has three questions when run as a slide show (so there's actually 300 questions). Each question is progressively harder as it goes along (in built differentiation!). Intended as 1 a day starter before leaping into the full lesson but could be used as a 'filler' for rainy days. Based on several other excellent resources I found, combined and added to!
By theautisticteacher

GCSE Problem Solving Questions of the Day - Compilation

This booklet contains over 50 problem solving questions suitable for KS3 and GCSE classes. These are the questions that we have been putting out each day in the run up to GCSE exams. The answers are also provided with each question.

There are problems that are suitable for foundation and higher and ones that are suitable for higher tier only.

We hope to release more questions like this over the course of next year that you can use on a regular basis with your classes including some open ended problems. Please keep a look out for our work.

In June 2016 we plan to release our new KS3 schemes of work. The schemes build on the work we have been doing within primary. We are keen to work with secondary schools next year who might be interested in implementing this KS3 scheme.

As always we welcome any feedback on the work we are doing and the materials that we are releasing.
Thank you for taking an interest in our work.

The White Rose Maths Hub Team

By WRMaths

Puzzle of the Week

Each of these documents contains 30 puzzles which I have used over 3 academic years as 'puzzle of the week&'. I have a folder on the wall and pupils help themselves to printouts and they hand them into a box in my room, receiving merits for correct answers. Many of the puzzles are not necessarily my own work, just things I have found over the years! Its worth mentioning that they aren&';t all Maths-based, although most are... If you like this resource then please check out my other stuff on here! :) EDIT: 1/12/14 Added year 3!
By Owen134866

A Level

Just as important as the transition from primary to secondary, or to a new class, is the jump from GCSE to A Level. I have always found it important to dispel any illusions that this is going to be an easy year, and intell right from the start that plenty of hard work and effort will be needed to succeed. These are some of the resources that help me do that.

Year 12 Maths Entry Assessment

This assessment tests basic pre-requisite maths skills on entry to A level. It's editable so if you like the format but don't like the questions, feel free to change them!

The idea is to give this 15 minute test in the first maths lesson of Year 12 in order to identify any students who need immediate intervention. The intervention sessions can then be tailored to specific skills eg a session on expanding brackets, and a separate session on solving equations.

This assessment is print-friendly (one side of A4) and quick to mark. Teachers can complete the mini-feedback sheet for each student and staple it to their assessment, with details of upcoming intervention sessions.
By Jo Morgan

A-level Pure Mathematics Year 1/AS

This set of 14 powerpoints have been designed to match the Edexcel Pure Mathematics Year 1/AS textbook, and have largely been adapted from my previous Core 1 and Core 2 resources. Every chapter is covered, and within are explanations that could be used to teach lessons or be shared with students via a digital classroom.

If you liked this resource, then please check out my other resources on TES!


By Owen134866


Revision of GCSE indices, extension to AS level work
By Susan Whitehouse

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