The Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP) was a national programme to support state-funded schools and colleges to offer AS and A level Further Mathematics, to support the teaching and learning of AS and A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and to increase participation in these courses. It was superseded by the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme (AMSP), which is also managed by MEI, in 2018.
A level Further Mathematics is a prestigious qualification and is often used by leading universities as an entry requirement for Mathematics and strongly mathematics-dependent degree courses.
The original idea for the programme came from a teacher who contacted MEI to express concern that many state-funded schools and colleges could not offer AS or A level Further Mathematics because they did not have teachers able to teach it, or small class sizes meant it was not cost effective to run it. This was deeply unfair, as many state-educated students were losing out on opportunities that were widely available in the independent sector.
MEI sought charitable funding to develop a pilot programme to support the tuition of AS and A level Further Mathematics in state-funded schools and colleges. We were delighted when the Gatsby Charitable Foundation agreed to fund it. The success of this pilot led, in 2005, to the Government agreeing to fund a national programme, the Further Mathematics Network, which was a forerunner of the FMSP. Funding by successive Governments continued to 2018.
The FMSP provided extensive professional development for teachers to improve pedagogy and subject knowledge. It provided tuition for students of Further Mathematics, when their school or college could not, and promoted the study of A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics to Key Stage 4 students. The FMSP used technology to provide online support for students and teachers.
Each year the FMSP provided professional development and support to around 2,500 teachers, and enrichment and support to over 12,000 students. Between 2005 and 2018 the proportion of state-funded schools and colleges in England offering A levels that offered A level Further Mathematics increased from below 40% to 70%. Entries for A level Further Mathematics increased from under 6,000 to over 15,000, the subject rising from 27th to 16th most popular A level. A level Mathematics entries also rose from 48,000 to 90,000, making it the most popular A level subject.