The delivery of mathematics at Key Stage 3 follows the National Curriculum closely. Each year group is divided into a number of sets – usually five. This is to provide differentiated learning environments suited to the ability of individual pupils. Parents should not be overly concerned if their child is moved from one set to another from time to time, as this is done to ensure that adequate provision is made in order to maximise achievement at any given time throughout the key stage. Typically, lower sets are usually fewer in number allowing more teacher time to be given to pupils who experience difficulty. Special support may also be given to those pupils in lower or top sets in order to provide even greater differentiation as necessary.
The school enters some pupils for the United Kingdom Mathematics Challenge and a growing number of pupils have achieved certificates for their performance in these competitions, adding to their confidence, enjoyment and sense of achievement in this vital subject.
It is the philosophy of the department to actively communicate the importance of mathematics in the real world – it underpins most of technology, financial planning and modelling, decision/risk analysis and the pure sciences – even biology is based on chemistry for its functioning and this, in turn, is explained by physics. Finally the laws of physics, at a fundamental level, are based on mathematical patterns, symmetries or representations, which can only be properly expressed in the language of mathematics – even the universe itself follows mathematical rules. It is hoped that, by communicating the value of mathematics in this way, it will encourage pupils to study this subject to a high level, whilst at the same time they learn to enjoy the challenge of searching for solutions.
A Level and beyond
Students choose to study Mathematics in the Sixth Form for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is a rich and intellectually demanding subject which calls for mental discipline and clear, logical thinking. As such, it is very highly regarded by universities and employers alike, irrespective of your chosen career direction. Secondly, Mathematics forms the basis of many fields of study in Engineering and the Physical Sciences, and is therefore a prerequisite for further development in these areas. Moreover, recent trends have seen the applicability of Mathematics expand way beyond these traditional fields.
The subject is increasingly used to solve complex problems of Management and Finance, particularly in industry, and also for research in Economics, Geography and the Biological Sciences.
A wide range of career options also means a chance to earn more money: a recent study, conducted by economists at the University of Swansea, showed that Maths and Computing degrees make the biggest difference to lifetime earnings. On average, a graduate of any degree can expect to earn £149,760 more in his or her lifetime than a person leaving education with two A levels. For Maths and computing graduates, this figure rises to over £220,000!
Further Mathematics is a separate A-Level to Mathematics which extends the core topics and introduces new material normally encountered during the first year of a degree course. It is therefore a particularly demanding A-Level although many find it even more exciting and rewarding than single Maths. Anyone considering studying Engineering, Mathematics or Economics at a top university must study this subject.