The Perse School
 

Maths

Our philosophy is rooted in creating confidence in maths

Our aim

Our philosophy is rooted in creating confidence in maths. At A level and beyond, as maths becomes increasingly complex and involved, students will frequently encounter problems that could, on first glance, appear beyond them and will certainly test their skills to the maximum. We help students develop the self-possession needed to confidently unpick a question and select the best maths to deploy each time, giving students the ability to face challenges undaunted.

Students who study maths at A level learn to appreciate the difference between an answer and a solution, using their knowledge, skills and intuition to select the most appropriate maths to bring to bear on any question. We help them develop rigorous working habits, instilling the importance of writing proper solutions and making judicious use of computers.

Above all we encourage them to explore and broaden their maths while they are in the Sixth Form, and inspire and equip them to discover more when they move on to the next stage of their education.

Maths A levels have not yet been reformed. We offer four courses to suit different interests and abilities.

Learning journey - AS

On the pure side the course initially consolidates much of the GCSE syllabus then introduces calculus, logarithms and trigonometry.  The applied side is all statistics, working with averages and measures of spread, probability distributions, probability and regression.

Our Extension Maths classes in the Lower Sixth offer the STEP 1 course for those who want to stretch themselves beyond A level.

Learning journey - single (A2) maths

In the Upper Sixth there is a large step up in the level of difficulty on the pure side, especially in the calculus, trigonometry and their applications. The applied side is all mechanics, applying Newton’s laws of motion, developing a model for sliding friction and exploring the relationships between displacement, velocity and acceleration.

Learning journey - AS further maths

Students with a genuine interest in and aptitude for mathematics but who do not want to follow the full double maths course may find this course appealing. It is especially useful for students who are considering studying medicine or economics at university, and who would find the extra statistics very useful.

The course covers a total of nine modules, five of which are pure and four, applied modules.

Learning journey - double maths

This course is only suitable for those students who are either intending to study a degree in mathematics, the physical sciences, engineering or economics (some universities require it), or who genuinely love the subject and have a very high aptitude for it.

The pace is quick. Students on the double maths course take the entire single maths in the Lower Sixth.  In addition most students will take the M2 module, which contains projectiles, moments, circular motion and centres of mass.

In the Upper Sixth, the pure maths course becomes increasingly algebraic and abstract.  It includes complex numbers, vector geometry, differential equations and further trigonometry, groups and calculus.  On the applied side the mechanics course includes variable forces, oscillations and rotational motion.  The statistics course includes the normal and Poisson distributions and hypothesis testing.

 

Providing stretch

We offer support and mentoring to students who would like maths to be the topic of their EPQ or Rouse Research Award.

We enter the UKMT Team Challenges for teams of four sixth formers, of which not more than two are in the Upper Sixth. The competitions are designed to encourage teamwork and cooperation, and can include a requirement for the team to do some preparatory study on a selected field outside the normal curriculum.

The British Mathematical Olympiad is popular with our students. In 2016, two Perse students represented the UK in the Balkan Mathematical Olympiad, and were selected for the UK squad for the International Mathematical Olympiad. Our students have considerable success in the Senior Maths Team competitions; in 2015 one team reached the national final while another won the poster competition.

We encourage wide reading around the subject; we provide our suggestions of good texts and encourage students to explore the University of Cambridge reading list.

More than 30 sixth form mathematicians help local primary school children learn maths as part of their fortnightly timetabled enrichment, either providing gifted children with extra stretch or supporting those who are finding maths more challenging. Students often find that having to explain maths concepts to others, often in many different ways, helps reinforce their own knowledge.

Beyond the classroom

We have regular maths surgeries in which all students can drop in for extra support, or to explore a concept in greater depth. Sixth form students often act as mentors to younger students during these surgeries. Sixth formers can become departmental prefects, many of whom assist in these surgeries.

The sixth form Maclaurin Society meets weekly throughout the year. Students and staff take it in turn to give talks on any mathematical topic of interest, from Chaos Theory to the shortest distance between two points. STEM club helps students in Year 11 to Sixth Form intending to study a STEM subject at university to make the links between the difference subjects.

Our ’42’ society programme of lunchtime lectures includes topics of interest to mathematicians. In 2016 we will welcome Professor Mike Cates, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge (a position held by Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Stephen Hawking), who will be talking on the topic of ‘Bulletproof Custard: Fluids that stop flowing when you push them too hard.’

The Economics Society meets regularly to hear and discuss presentations by A level students and occasional external speakers. While open to everyone, it is particularly useful for those considering an economics or an economics-related degree at university. The Society also has a reading group which provides an opportunity for those applying to read economics to run seminars for each other.

Maths at university

We offer four extra lessons per fortnight for Upper Sixth students hoping to read maths at university. In the Michaelmas term, three of these focus on preparing students for all university maths entrance exams and Oxbridge maths interviews; the fourth is a curve sketching course suitable for students considering all degrees with a mathematical content. In the Lent and Summer terms all four lessons focus on STEP 2 and STEP 3.

 

 

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