We aim to instill in pupils an appreciation of how fascinating, creative, satisfying and useful Mathematics can be.
Staff and facilities
The department has 15 members of staff and occupies 11 classrooms. The department is well supplied with computers, interactive whiteboards and other practical equipment.
Subject time per 10-day cycle
- Lower School – six lessons with up to two hours of homework
- GCSE – seven lessons with two hours of homework (*current Fourth Year have seven lessons)
- A-level – Lower Sixth have 10 lessons per fortnight with additional individual study (Upper Sixth have 11 lessons)
Are pupils put into sets according to ability?
In the First Year the pupils are taught in their form groups. Although all pupils have a sufficient level of competency, there seems no upper limit to the ability of a significant number of our intake. Therefore it is our policy to begin setting according to mathematical progress from the Second Year onwards. Some transferring between sets is possible during the year and it is reviewed fully at the end of each year.
All the teachers in the Mathematics department are experienced in dealing with gifted pupils and every year we attract a significant number of particularly able boys and girls. Puzzle club has lunchtime meetings that are relaxed but thought-provoking. The textbooks we use go well beyond public examination syllabuses, and we have a wealth of challenging material for those who make outstanding progress.
Each year we hold inter-form team competitions with the winners going on to represent the school in a national event. The United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) organises annual mathematics challenges for junior, intermediate and senior age groups and we enter large numbers of candidates, many of whom are invited to take part in follow-up rounds. Other competitions that we enter include the National Cipher Challenge, Alan Turing Cryptography competition, Liverpool MEM challenge and various Pop Maths quizzes.
The UKMT runs a mentoring scheme for truly exceptional pupils and teachers in the department supervise individuals working from problem sheets.
Mathematics in the Lower School
We hope pupils will settle into the school quickly and at first we will revise a number of topics, like fractions and decimals, which pupils will have covered at Junior School. However, for all pupils who need minimal revision, we have lots of extension material, puzzle sheets and investigations, to keep everyone stimulated and stretched. Very soon, however, we launch into the teaching of algebraic techniques. Greater importance is placed on the ability to explain how answers are produced rather than what the answers actually are. Much time is spent on the clear, concise and logical presentation of solutions.
The use of calculators is not encouraged until midway through the Scond Year because we expect our pupils to be very good at mental and pencil-and-paper arithmetic.
Mathematics in the Middle School
The compulsory GCSE course in Mathematics runs over two years. Pupils are taught in sets with each pupil placed in the set which will enable him or her to achieve the best GCSE grade (the IGCSE Edexcel Mathematics qualification is graded 9-1). What distinguishes one set from another is the pace at which new theory is introduced, absorbed and retained and the same topic may be presented to the sets in different ways.
Pupils in the higher sets also study the Level 2 Certificate in Further Mathematics. Pupils who are below these sets, subject to performance in Fourth Year, have the opportunity to take the qualification after school in Fifth Year.
Pupils also have the option of taking GCSE Statistics as an extra-curricular option after school. This takes place over two years with pupils taking two exams at the end of the course. It is expected that pupils will work independently on some of the material and they must keep up with their commitments in all of the subjects that they are taught in their normal curriculum time.
Our Sixth Formers take the Edexcel Mathematics course. This comprises of three papers (two pure and one applied consisting of Mechanics and Statistics). All three papers are taken at the end of the course.
It is recommended that all students taking Mathematics at A-level have a grade 7 or above (A or A*) at GCSE. The vast majority of candidates at Stockport Grammar School are in this category which enables us to make fast progress and teach beyond the syllabus.
Success in Mathematics is dependent on a high standard of proficiency in algebraic techniques and so we recommend these skills are particularly sound. The A-level course is demanding and requires consistent application from Sixth Form pupils.
It is possible to study two A-levels in Mathematics. Further Mathematics should not be found more difficult than any other subject, but having gone into such depth, the pupil should not encounter difficulty with A-level Mathematics. Assessment is at the end of the course consisting of four papers covering further pure, mechanics and statistics. Pupils who are considering taking this qualification should be comfortably on course to achieve a grade 8 or 9 (A*) at GCSE.
Mathematics at university
Mathematics is a versatile subject and affords a sound training in a logical discipline. Those wishing to read mathematics and most forms of engineering at university are advised to study both mathematics and further mathematics at A-level. Pupils who have studied further mathematics in the past have gone on to read subjects such as mathematics, engineering, IT, chemistry and economics.
A number of students are prepared for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge universities. Oxford requires prospective mathematics, computer science and physics candidates to sit formal mathematics entrance examinations. The Cambridge colleges make use of their Sixth Term entrance papers.
What else goes on?
We regularly have pupils who qualify for the British Mathematical Olympiad at junior, intermediate and senior levels. We provide encouragement in school for suitable candidates. For several years now we have had representatives in the UK national squad and one has made the team itself. The junior competition provides a challenge for the brightest pupils in the first two years. In addition to the UKMT and FMSP national mathematics competitions, we also enter team mathematics competitions which take place at local universities and have been very successful in recent years. We have had recent successes in the local Pop Maths competitions at local universities and pupils enjoy taking part in the MEM challenged organised by the Liverpool Mathematical Society. Trips organised by the department have included the Maths Inspiration Lectures, “Taking Maths Further” at Manchester University and “Further Maths – What next?” at Oxford University.
There are open help sessions after school for any Middle School and Sixth Form pupils and there are also drop-in lunchtime help sessions once a week for Lower School pupils. All pupils are encouraged to see their teacher for any extra help or explanations they need.
Puzzle club is open to all First and Second Year pupils. Activities are designed to suit all abilities and interests and range from solving riddles, playing strategy games and finding your way through maddening mazes to more creative activities such as making fractals, drawing curves of pursuit, making pop-up cards and even plaiting polyhedra.
Mathematics is also very important in cryptography so we enter teams in the National Cipher Challenge and Alan Turing cryptography competitions which run for periods during the year. Pupils find all of these activities and competitions stimulating, a lot of fun and a chance to get to know and work with other pupils.