We aim to instil in pupils an appreciation of how fascinating, creative, satisfying and useful mathematics can be.
Staff and facilities
The department has 11 members of staff and occupies 10 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 – five lessons with two hours of homework
- A-level – 10 lessons with additional individual study
Are pupils put into sets according to ability?
All pupils who enter the school have passed a stringent mathematical examination. In the first year, the pupils are taught in randomly chosen 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 Stockport Grammar attracts 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.
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 second year, because we expect our pupils to be very good at mental and pencil-and-paper arithmetic.
Our sixth formers take the OCR mathematics course. This comprises of six units which make up one A-level, four of which must be pure maths. The other two are selected from units in mechanics, statistics and discrete maths.
It is recommended that all students taking Maths at A-level have a grade 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.
It is possible to study two A-levels in maths. One could be called single maths and the second further maths. 12 different units must be chosen in total from the following options: seven pure, four mechanics, four statistics and two discrete modules. Further maths should not be found more difficult than any other subject, but having gone into such depth, the pupil should not encounter difficulty with single maths.
Maths at university
Maths is a versatile subject and affords a sound training in a logical discipline. Those wishing to read maths and most forms of Engineering at university are advised to study both maths and further maths at A-level. Pupils who have studied further maths in the past have gone on to read subjects such as maths, engineering, IT, chemistry and economics. A number of students are prepared for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge universities. Oxford requires prospective maths, computer science and physics candidates to sit formal maths entrance examinations. The Cambridge colleges make use of their sixth term entrance papers maths candidates.
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 maths competitions, we also enter team maths competitions which take place at local universities and have been very successful in recent years. There are open help sessions after school for any middle school and sixth form pupils who need extra help 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. Maths 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.