Head of Subject: Mr M. Nixon
We have established five guiding principles for the way in which students should approach their learning in Mathematics. They are explained here.
Mathematics is about much more than just an examination grade. Capabilities in problem-solving and reasoning are developed alongside highly relevant and important skills.
Mathematics is not a set of rules or procedures to be learnt. Doing mathematics involves searching for patterns, describing what you see, and thinking deeply about the connections between concepts.
We reject the idea that a large proportion of people ‘just can’t do maths’. Effort and belief lead to success. Everyone can make progress in mathematics.
Key learning points in mathematics are studied in depth. Those who grasp concepts quickly are challenged through rich and sophisticated problems. Those who are not yet fluent are given more time to consolidate understanding before moving on.
Mathematics provides challenges that knock you off balance and force you to think. The ability to recover quickly from difficulties is a valuable skill for life.
What is my child learning?
Here are links to booklets that contain the key learning points that we use to structure learning in Mathematics at our school. Students should know which stage is relevant to them.
Stage 6 key learning point booklet (LINK)
Stage 7 key learning point booklet (LINK)
Stage 8 key learning point booklet (LINK)
Stage 9 key learning point booklet (LINK)
Stage 10 key learning point booklet (LINK)
What homework should I expect my child to be doing?
Your child should expect to carry out one piece of homework each week. Here are the schedules for these homeworks.
Stage 6 homework schedule (LINK)
Stage 7 homework schedule (LINK)
Stage 8 homework schedule (LINK)
Stage 9 homework schedule (LINK)
Stage 10 homework schedule (LINK)
On occasions it might be appropriate for the teacher to deviate from this schedule. They will explain this to students and note it on epraise.
What calculator does my child need?
We strongly recommend the CASIO FX-85GT. This is a very well designed calculator that enables students to access certain concepts far more easily than other models. It is fantastic value for money at less than £10 from many outlets. The calculator is available in various colours, and it is also available in a solar powered version (the CASIO FX-85GT PLUS), which is a future-proofed option. A Level students must have the CASIO ClassWiz FX-991EX.
When are students tested in Mathematics?
Students are tested formally at the end of the autumn and spring terms, and during the summer term. These tests will always assess recent learning in the subject. Additionally, Year 7 students sit a test in the first half term.
What online help do you recommend?
If you are looking for online support for your child’s mathematics, we recommend you visit CorbettMaths. This free website offers nearly 400 explanatory videos, worksheets and answers which are ideal for reinforcement and extra work outside of the classroom, covering all aspects of the mathematics curriculum.
Year 11 students are provided with information to access JustMaths. This site offers support, resources and guidance for students as they prepare for their GCSE.
Does my child need a Maths tutor?
Your child’s Maths teacher is the best person to advise you on this. Occasionally it might be appropriate to seek further support outside of school, but often the student just needs to focus and work a little harder. If this is addressed it saves both time and money, and is the most positive solution for all concerned. Parents should be aware that there is a high degree of inconsistency in terms of tutor quality. In particular, tutors need to understand that mechanical practice is not often helpful, and that any temptation to push students ahead to new concepts must be avoided.
What do you mean: ‘understanding mathematics’?
There are very good reasons for mathematics being considered such an important subject for everyone to learn, and they are often misunderstood. There is a rich history and culture associated with the subject. Many students simply enjoy doing mathematics and solving the puzzles and problems that it provides. A significant range of careers and industries require the application of mathematical techniques and processes. But there is one reason that stands above all others in terms of its relevance to everyone: doing mathematics develops the human brain in a unique way. It is not necessarily what students are learning that is important, but what they are doing to their mind.
What does ‘high expectations’ mean for me?
Your child will be taught within broad prior attainment groups that allow us to support all students to make progress through carefully planned lessons and activities. The profile of these groups also means that all students receive appropriate levels of challenge. Please avoid any temptation to claim ‘I was never any good at maths’ – research shows that this has an immediate negative impact on the progress of your child: It would help greatly if you could instead say, ‘I always had to work hard to understand in maths’.
What do ‘deep thinkers’ in mathematics look like?
Your child should see mathematics as a creative subject that requires hard work and deep thinking. If you see your child doing mathematics, ask them ‘why do you think this?’ or ‘why is that the answer?’ Please don’t expect to just see a lot of ticks (or crosses) in your child’s exercise book. Marking will point out differences between mistakes and misconceptions, and your child will be expected to correct any mistakes themselves and act on advice given about misconceptions.
What does ‘mastery’ mean?
Mastery approaches can enable all pupils to succeed in mathematics. The ability to race through pages of repetitive calculations does not necessarily mean that a secure grasp of concepts has been achieved. More secure and transferable understanding is achieved when students are challenged to apply knowledge beyond routine exercises. Being aware of the key learning points your child is studying in the classroom can enable you to help them at home. Our curriculum structure is designed to ensure those students that need it have further opportunities to consolidate understanding before progressing to the next stage of learning.
Why is it so important to be ‘resilient’ in mathematics?
The mental discomfort produced when someone is confronted with new information that contradicts their prior beliefs is known as ‘cognitive conflict’. It is our job to tackle students’ misunderstandings and we will use this as a strategy to help overcome difficulties. Students may be made to feel uncomfortable at other times too, but hovering on the edge of uncertainty is an important sign that they are being challenged appropriately. Some students may perceive the teacher to be ignoring them, when the reality is that they are being helped to move their learning forwards more quickly. Perhaps more than any other subject, mathematics develops resilience through its relentless focus on solving problems in both familiar and unfamiliar contexts.