Poole Grammar School, Gravel Hill, Poole, Dorset, BH17 9JU | Tel: 01202 692132 | Email: pgsoffice@poolegrammar.com
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Mathematics

What will I learn?      

“The only way to learn Maths is to do Maths”   Paul Halmos

Mathematics is taught from Y7 to Y11 as a compulsory core subject. We aim to develop students’ understanding in an enjoyable way through the delivery of a structured programme that clarifies the way in which various topics inter-connect and interact.

From Y7 onward, students are expected and encouraged to ask their own questions based on their learning. Indeed, a student’s ability to review his learning and ask questions to clarify his understanding is a key factor for driving his progress. In certain stages of the lesson students must concentrate carefully and pay full attention to explanations. This often precedes opportunities for students to practise and perfect new skills and discuss challenging problems with their peers and their teacher.

Throughout years 7 and 8 the focus will be on developing mathematical proficiency, be it algebraic, numeric, geometric or relating to analysing data. In Y9, there will be a greater focus on using the skills acquired in years 7 and 8 to solve more complex problems involving several topics. In other words, an emphasis on becoming fluent in the language of mathematics in years 7 and 8 is followed by using this language in more creative and challenging contexts from Y9 onward. Students will produce written work in their mathematics exercise books and there are certain standards of written work which they must uphold. In all year groups, we emphasise the importance of being able to explain your answer clearly, both in writing and speaking. Good presentation of written work and good explanations in class are often rewarded with achievement points for the student

As questions become more challenging, they demand more of the students’ ability to explain each stage of their solution. Our emphasis is on “explaining your method” rather than merely “getting the right answer”. In the Sixth form, students are expected to keep a well-organised file of work. It is hoped that their choice to study mathematics and the gradual development of their independent learning skills throughout years 7 to 11 combine to make them effective students of A-level Mathematics or Further Mathematics. The latter is also offered as a full A-level and we have the expertise within the department to teach to the highest level of the school curriculum and beyond.

Will I get homework?

  • We set homework to consolidate the learning from the current lesson or to review a longer period of work; for example, the use of homework revision sheets to prepare for formal progress tests. Students may also be set homework to prepare for a new topic in advance. The use of homework teaches students to meet deadlines and to structure their time outside school to support their learning in school. Homework should be manageable for the student and homework guidelines for each year group indicate how long the student should spend on it. Typically, one and a half hours a fortnight in years 7 and 8, 2 hours in Y9 and extending to three hours a fortnight in years 10 and 11

How will I be assessed?

  • Students will be taught in their tutor groups throughout years 7 and 8 to give them chance to settle down within the Grammar School environment and to provide enough time and information to place them in the correct set for their ability in Y9. The structure for the setting is two blocks of 4 classes. The top classes in each bock are labelled 1A and these contain the top 30% of students based on mathematical ability. The second sets in each block are 1B and contain the next most able 30% of students. The other two sets in each block will therefore contain the lower 40% of the year group based on mathematical performance throughout years 7 and 8. Consistently good performance in class and in progress tests may mean that a student needs to be promoted to a higher maths set. The performance in the end of half-term assessments along with enthusiasm in class and reliability with homework will feed into three formal assessments throughout the academic year. We recognise that some students do not respond well under formal test conditions. To help students we adopt a “low stakes, high challenge” approach in lessons so that students are not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. This approach helps us to see the quality of students’ mathematical thinking and their attitude to learning.

What guidance and support is available?

  • We recommend several online learning resources; namely “Dr Frost Maths” for inter-active PowerPoints to use for revision and consolidation, “Maths Genie” and “Corbett Maths” for fully worked examples, our online “Kerboodle” textbook for revising topics covered in class and “Mymaths” for fully inter-active learning. There are also extra-curricular support classes for each year group that operate either during morning registration or at lunchtime. The support sessions are staffed by maths teachers and by Sixth Form “Maths Ambassadors” who have expressed an interest in helping younger students and been selected by the department for their abilities in this area.

What extra-curricular opportunities are available?

  • We participate in the UKMT individual Challenges at junior, intermediate and senior levels. We also encourage student participation in the “Cipher Challenge” and the “Mathematics Challenges” run by Southampton University. Students are encouraged to try the challenge questions on the Dr Frost and NRich websites and the very able will tackle mentoring sheets and past Olympiad questions provided by the UKMT. To give all students the experience of mathematical competitions we have also recently introduced a Team Challenge in Years 7 and 8 along the lines of the UKMT Junior Challenge. In the latter competition, our students came 12th in the National Finals in 2019. The details and requirements of these team competitions are explained in maths lessons. In the Sixth form, our students compete in the UKMT senior team challenge and we offer coaching for STEP and Oxford MAT papers. Our School library also has a good stock of maths books on the discoveries and lives of famous mathematicians. For students aged 15 to 17, there are “Routes into STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) courses at various U.K. University venues. These are residential courses provided by the “Engineering Development Trust” and come highly recommended for those students who wish to pursue an apprenticeship or higher level study in a STEM discipline.

RKN  January 2020