TES Maths: Inspect the spec - sampling

Craig Barton
09th December 2016
TES Maths, inspect the spec, GCSE, new specification, sampling, stratified sampling, capture-recapture method, Lincoln-Petersen, KS4, Year 10, Year 11

Tips and resources to ensure you've grasped the requirements for teaching sampling as part of the new specification

Everyone is talking about functions and frequency trees, but what else has changed with the advent of the new specification? And what resources are available to help? Throughout this series, TES Maths aims to find out.

What does the specification say?

The expectation is that:

  • All students will develop confidence and competence with the content identified by standard type
  • All students will be assessed on the content identified by the standard and the underlined type; more highly attaining students will develop confidence and competence with all of this content
  • Only the more highly attaining students will be assessed on the content identified by bold type. The highest attaining students will develop confidence and competence with the bold content.

S1: Infer properties of populations or distributions from a sample, whilst knowing the limitations of sampling

What's the same?

This topic has caused a lot of confusion! While both AQA and Edexcel have not explicitly mentioned stratified sampling in their new specifications, both sampling and proportional reasoning still feature. So, what does this mean?

Well, as long as a question does not use the word “stratified” without defining its meaning, it would be reasonable for exams to include a question on stratified sampling. It is just another form of proportion after all.

As such, I will definitely be teaching the method of stratified sampling to my higher students. Just to be on the safe side...

What has changed?

This depends on which awarding body you are following.

All awarding bodies are likely to place a greater emphasis on discussing the merits of sampling, considering questions such as: What makes a biased sample? What makes a representative sample? What is a reasonable sample size in a given situation? In addition, students will need to know that the statistics they calculate from samples (eg, the mean) can be used to make predictions about the population itself.

If you are following Edexcel, then you are in for a real treat. For the first time, they've introduced the Lincoln-Petersen capture-recapture method. If you're anything like me, you may remember being taught this at school as part of a science lesson. Thankfully, it's not too taxing. And the resources below ought to help.

How can TES Maths can help?

As ever, the wonderfully talented authors of the TES Maths community have stepped up to the mark to lend a hand. Here is a selection of my favourite resources to help support the teaching of this topic:

  1. Introduction to sampling
    Jam-packed with engaging tasks, this differentiated lesson from TES Author Pixi_17 is ideal for acquainting students with different sampling types.
  2. Sampling techniques match-up
    Use this simple activity to start a discussion about the merits of various sampling techniques relative to given situations.
  3. Full stratified sampling lesson
    If you're still planning on teaching stratified sampling, this detailed lesson includes increasingly difficult examples to get students thinking.
  4. Capture-recapture introduction
    This biology lesson offers a clear introduction to the capture-recapture method of sampling. Don't worry about the section on quadrants, although it could be a useful visual tool. 
  5. Simple capture-recapture lesson
    Go on to present the concept in a mathematical setting with this complete lesson, including worked examples and a corny codebreaker activity.
  6. Formula information sheet
    Ideal as a reference point for students, this single page of instructions neatly explains the different parts of the formula.
  7. Marking and recapturing snails
    For something a bit more hands-on, why not go outdoors and study snails? It's a great way of consolidating work on the capture-recapture method.


Craig Barton, TES Maths adviser

Craig is a secondary maths teacher in the North of England.


Find more resources to support the changes to the GCSE maths specification by taking a look at the rest of the series.

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