Free Key Stage 4 classroom resources which use real-world examples, such as going to university and running a festival stall, to bring maths to life are now available for teachers to download.

Chartered accountancy body ICAEW has designed the resources to help GCSE maths students tackle context-based questions.

Around a quarter of questions in GCSE maths exams involve applying maths to real-world contexts, but analysis of past papers showed that many pupils struggled with this.

The new teaching resources use financial examples to provide real-world context and engage pupils in understanding mathematical concepts. They have been designed to help teachers make maths more accessible, engaging, and relevant, while preparing students for exams.

The content is set to the new GCSE syllabus, and has been written to cover a range of abilities and fit within existing teaching plans.

Content includes:

  • Relating algebra to running a festival stall
  • Interpreting and representing data by identifying the costs of going to university, such as paying rent and student fees
  • Linking linear graphs with wages, salaries and earnings
  • Connecting fractions, ratios and percentages with the costs of going on holiday, such as managing holiday payment options and currency conversion
  • Using managing savings, loans and credit to teach multiplicative reasoning.

Mathematician and teacher Bobby Seagull, who appeared on University Challenge and hosts the Maths Appeal podcast said: “As a school maths teacher, I welcome these new resources from the ICAEW. Around a quarter of GCSE maths questions ask our students to apply maths to real-world contexts. Students often struggled with context-based problems. So these ICAEW materials link well to the examined syllabus and gives me an additional, excellent set of resources to help prepare my students.”

Rebecca Bolton, ICAEW Financial Capability Manager, said: “It’s important that we engage young people in maths with a financial context, to give them experience of dealing with situations they may face in real life. ICAEW operates under a royal charter to act in the public interest and it’s in the public interest that people know how to manage finances in situations such as applying for loans or paying rent.

“We hope that by using these resources teachers and schools can improve their students’ maths performance.”

The resources have been piloted in colleges over the past six months. David Smeath, maths teacher and Head of Year 12 at Stantonbury School in Milton Keynes, said: “Maths should drive a context, so if you can get the students to work on a topic and maths drives that topic, which may be a social or financial topic, then it gives students a better way to learn and relate when answering exam questions.

“The material was flexible to work on with my current lesson plan, and if students see a question phrased using something like savings or loans or banks, they are more likely to achieve.”

Each unit of the new resources consists of:

  • A teaching plan
  • A PowerPoint presentation
  • Task questions and answers for teachers to hand out
  • A supporting spreadsheet, as an additional resource for teachers

The resources are available for teachers to download for free at