Aims and Philosophy
The Mathematics Department aims to develop confidence in the subject at all levels, so that pupils are able to achieve the best possible grades at GCSE and A level. The department provides an extensive range of academic support, and we aim for pupils of all abilities to enjoy and find interest in a subject which equips them with the skills they will need for life in a modern, technological society.
Key Stage 3
In Year 7, pupils are grouped into five sets according to the aptitude they currently show in the subject. Sets four and five are smaller groups, allowing pupils to receive extra support from their teachers. Weekly homeworks and regular topic tests inform teachers of their progress in each branch of mathematics, and there are summative tests at the end of Michaelmas and Summer terms, which provide an opportunity to review setting. Teaching in Years 7 and 8 has a focus on Numeracy and Geometry while also developing confidence with early Algebra and Statistics techniques, so that pupils have a thorough understanding of these in readiness for their GCSE course.
Key Stage 4
Mathematics is compulsory at GCSE. Classes are grouped according to ability, with regular opportunities for pupils to move between groups if appropriate. Pupils follow the Edexcel GCSE course through Years 9, 10 and 11, ready to take the public examination at the end of Year 11. The Higher Tier paper covers grades 3 up to 9 (D to A**) and it is a significantly more challenging exam than the old mathematics GCSE. The Foundation Tier paper shares some of the same questions, but in an overall more accessible exam which covers grades 1 up to 5. Each pupil’s progress will be carefully considered over the three-year course and a final decision on tier of entry will be made in Year 11, according to which tier is more likely to lead to a higher grade for each pupil.
The aims and objectives of the course are to enable students to:
- develop fluent knowledge, skills and understanding of mathematical methods and concepts;
- acquire, select and apply mathematical techniques to solve problems;
- reason mathematically, make deductions and inferences, and draw conclusions;
- Comprehend, interpret and communicate mathematical information in a variety of forms appropriate to the information and context.
The assessments will cover the following content headings:
- Ratio, proportion and rates of change
- Geometry and measures
All pupils will sit three 90-minute examination papers at the end of the course; Paper 1 (non-calculator), Paper 2 (calculator) and Paper 3 (calculator). The content outlined for each tier will be assessed across all three papers. The qualification will be graded and certified on a nine-grade scale from 9 to 1 using the total marks across all three papers where 9 is the highest grade. The Higher tier grades are 4 to 9 (grade 3 is allowed) and the Foundation tier grades are 1 to 5.
In addition to the Mathematics GCSE, there is also a Further Mathematics GCSE available for those who show a particular aptitude for the subject. All GCSE mathematics courses are linear, with all material tested in calculator and non-calculator examinations at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework element.
Mathematics is consistently the most popular A-Level subject choice at CVMS, producing many top grades every year. We continue to follow the Edexcel syllabus for both Mathematics and Further Mathematics at A-Level. Both courses are linear, with all material tested at the end of the Upper Sixth year, although pupils taking Further Mathematics may opt to take the full maths A-Level after one year if appropriate. There are usually four Mathematics sets, and two Further Mathematics sets, with an average of twenty pupils in each class in the Lower Sixth, reducing in the Upper Sixth.
Pupils study Pure Mathematics, Statistics and Mechanics at A-Level, all of which are compulsory elements of the course. For the Further Mathematics A-Level, extra courses in Further Mechanics and Further Pure Mathematics are added to the compulsory Core Pure elements of the course. Further Mathematics students are taught separately and have more lessons than those students studying Mathematics only. There is also an option to take Further Mathematics as an AS Level at the end of the Upper Sixth year.
For A-Level students taking the Advanced Extension Award (AEA), extra support is provided. We also support Cambridge candidates taking STEP (Sixth Term Examination Papers - three papers used to assess applicants' aptitude) and offer mock interviews for all Oxbridge applicants.
Additional support is provided to selected pupils in the lower school through a sixth form mentoring scheme, with sixth form mathematicians meeting once a week with the lower school pupils to help with their maths. We also run a series of intervention classes after school for those in their GCSE year, and, when possible, we offer optional Saturday morning classes at GCSE and A-Level. We also provide drop-in support sessions during the week for pupils studying A-Level Mathematics.
Competitions and Clubs
There is a strong involvement in extra-curricular mathematics, with many pupils of all ages excelling in the UK Mathematics Challenge at Junior, Intermediate and Senior level. Teams also compete regularly in Maths competitions against other schools, including the UKMT Team Challenges, the year 10 Maths Feast and the Hans Woyda competition, which allows the most able mathematicians in the school to pit their wits against some of the best schools in London.
There are three maths clubs, for junior, intermediate and senior, which meet weekly during the year and prepare pupils for competitions, as well as broadening their mathematical thinking and extending their knowledge.