TES Maths back-to-school collection

Happy New School Year!

Craig Barton

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Yes, the summer is over, September is here, and with it comes the return of hundreds of students who have miraculously forgotten every ounce of mathematical knowledge over those intervening six weeks. If you want to get the new school year 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 10 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 for all involved.

It’ll be Christmas in no time!

Craig Barton, TES Maths Adviser

First week activities

One of the most popular resources of all time on TES, and it is not hard to see why. The four activities included allow students to get to know each other in a meaningful, product way, with plenty of mathematics thrown in for good measure.

Rich maths task: diffy

This is the first secondary school maths lesson that our new bunch of Year 7s experience in September. Like all my rich tasks it is designed to have a low barrier of entry (students can find success within the first 20 seconds), but also a high ceiling, allowing students to show us exactly what they can do, which sets the tone nicely for the rest of the school year.

Key stage 2/3 problem-solving cards

If you want to expose students to non-routine problems early on, with an emphasis on them communicating their methods and working effectively together, then this is the resource for you. Challenging, interesting problems suitable for key stage 3 pupils.

Maths challenge puzzle sheets

Chris Smith’s epic collection of puzzles is ideal for those first few lessons to get students thinking deeply and working together. Running these as a carousel or a timed challenge is always an option.


The recently updated version of this unbelievably good book of maths magic is perfect for the first week back. Teachers could present a 'trick' and challenge students to figure it out. Then groups of students could be armed with their own tricks to learn to use on each other and their parents.

Maths Investigations

Six mathematical investigations, complete with teacher notes and suggested marking criteria, which are ideal for getting your students stuck straight in to some interesting mathematics.

Algebra cross number

Any cobwebs lingering in your students’ brains will be well and truly dusted away with this algebra cross-number. With no immediately obvious answers, logic, team work and mathematical nouse will be needed to solve this one. 

Introduction to core 1 algebra

If any group of students is likely to have forgotten all of what they knew before, it is your returning Year 12s. Set the tone for the demands of A-level maths with this algebraic introductory match-up activity.

A year of weekly homework

Getting homework right from the start of the year is crucial. This absolutely fantastic bundle of a year’s worth of interesting, challenging homeworks (many with the answers included), should help you achieve this aim.

GCSE starter questions and homeworks

A collection of starters and related homework that will help get your key stage 4 students back on track as quickly as possible and give you a valuable insight into where gaps in their knowledge lie.