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Department Overview

For us in Maths, we believe that there is no subject of greater value to a student. Maths is highly regarded by post-16 institutions as well as employers, so helping all of our students to achieve success is of paramount importance. More importantly however, we believe that studying this subject enhances students’ logical reasoning abilities and problem solving skills like no other.

When teaching Maths, we feel there are three key factors that contribute massively to student success; innate mathematical ability, retention ability and motivation. Following years of teaching and experience, we believe the third factor to be the most important. Regardless of a student’s ability, we constantly endeavour to motivate students and instil a personal sense of desire. At Alderbrook, we take great pride in the work ethic and tenacity that students show in maths, and we feel that it is the heightening sense of desire that has seen results gradually increase over recent years.

The Mathematics team consists of 10 dedicated, full-time members of staff, all of whom are qualified with a Degree in Mathematics or a Mathematics-related Degree. We also have our very own Lead Practitioner, who is currently working on the implementation of challenge and progress in lessons. Our team is very diverse and each teacher possesses a somewhat unique teaching style. However ensuring pupil learning and progress is essential. All members uphold the belief that high expectations and a clear and consistent framework to manage behaviour for learning are integral in a successful learning environment.

Throughout their Mathematical education at Alderbrook, students should be exposed to a variety of different teaching and learning styles. We aim to make lessons as enjoyable as possible, interesting and engaging. All staff have access to modern technologies and different staff will employ them in different ways. We empathise with students who may not readily enthuse with this subject, and we do our utmost to give all of our students a positive learning experience.

We aim to support all students, regardless of their level of ability. For students who find mathematics very difficult, we are very fortunate to have the support of the Learning Support Department. For higher ability students, we provide the opportunity to enter UK Maths Challenges and the like. At Key Stage 4, our higher ability students are given the opportunity to study the Further Maths GCSE, which bridges the gap between GCSE and As Level.

We can summarise our key objectives as follows:

  • To motivate students to desire personal success in Maths
  • To provide a positive learning experience
  • To provide an environment in which pupils can learn and feel safe
  • To uphold high expectations of all students
  • To help students see the value of Maths
  • To continue to uphold the identity of Maths as a subject at Alderbrook School.

 

Key Stage 3

At KS3 pupils in years 7/8 pupils will follow the National Curriculum.

The programme of study for key stage 3 is organised into apparently distinct domains, but pupils should build on key stage 2 and connections across mathematical ideas to develop fluency, mathematical reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems. They should also apply their mathematical knowledge in science, geography, computing and other subjects.

Curriculum Content includes,

  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Ratio, proportion rates of change
  • Geometry and Measures
  • Probability and Statistics

 

The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
  • reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
  • can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.

Pupils are put into sets dependant on their ability. Assessments for learning are regular throughout the year but pupils will complete two full SATS papers each year to monitor their progress.

Key Stage 4

The exclusive delivery of the Key Stage 4 curriculum commences at the beginning of year 10. Year 9 is aimed at the consolidation of fundamental concepts up to and including level 8 (which is the GCSE equivalent of grade B). For more advanced students (i.e. top sets), teachers will very often cover more extensive grade A and possibly even A* materials.

Due to the overlap in the Key Stage 3 and 4 curricula, year 9 inevitably covers many of the D and C grade aspects of GCSE. In fact, the latter stages of year 9 are geared towards understanding of D and C-grade materials such as:

  • Fractions, Decimals and Percentages
  • Contextualised numeracy questions
  • Additional numeracy topics (e.g. prime factor decomposition, Lowest Common Multiples, BIDMAS)
  • Basic algebra (e.g. like terms, linear equations, substitution, factorisation, expansion)
  • Basic geometry (e.g. area, volume, angles, transformations of shapes).

In year 10, students will either sit the Higher or Foundation curriculum. The tier depends on the ability of the students. Tenuously speaking, sets 1 to 4 are typically entered for Edexcel Linear Higher (this does not necessarily discount set 5 students). Students not suited to Higher Tier are entered for Foundation Tier. This will either be OCR Foundation or Edexcel Lineinset_general20-270x270ar Foundation.

The program of study for linear GCSE spans both Year 10 and 11. The content of the Exexcel and OCR Spefications are gouped into 6 topic areas:

  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measures
  • Statistics
  • Probability

The vast majority of students will be entered for their Linear exam at the end of year 11.

*Top set students

Our top set students are entered for a different exam, namely the Edexcel IGCSE Level 2 certificate. This is because it is a more difficult exam mathematically, covering some aspects of the As Curriculum (Differentiation, Set Theory, Functions). In addition, there is an earlier entry point available in January of year 11. In is often the case that a number of students are operating at the level of an A* by this point. Those that are prepared are entered for this exam. Early entry for such students presents its advantages:

  1. Students have completed a GCSE in a core subject
  2. We also offer The AQA Further Maths level 2 Certificate. Students who pass early then have the opportunity to study towards an additional GCSE. Further Maths is an exceptional GCSE to have; the content covers several aspects of the As and A2 curricula and serves as a fantastic bridge beween Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5.

Students who do not complete the IGCSE early may still enter for Further Maths if they are considering studying Maths at A-level and if they are on track to secure an A* by the end of year 11.

The timings and weightings of all of the exams we enter for are outlined below:

Edexcel Linear (Higher and Foundation)

Non Calculator Paper 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 1 hour 45 minutes
Calculator Paper 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 1 hour 45 minutes

 

OCR Foundation

Non Calculator Paper 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 1 hour 45 minutes
Calculator Paper 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 1 hour 45 minutes

 

Edexcel IGCSE

Calculator Paper 1 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 2 hours
Calculator Paper 2 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 2 hours

 

AQA Level 2 Certificate in Further Mathematics

Students who are deemed to be on track to secure an A* by January of Year 11 may be entered for the Further Mathematics Qualification. Weightings and timings are outlined in the table below:

Calculator Paper 1 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 2 hours
Calculator Paper 2 50% (100 marks) Written Exam 2 hours

 

Note* – Occasionally (for exceptional students), we may offer the OCR Additional Mathematics course. This course culminates in a single 2-hour examination and consists of several aspects of the As curriculum, including Differentiation and Integration, Coordinate geometry of circles, cubic polynomials, and As-level probability (binomial distribution).

Extra Curricular

Extra curricular activities include Gifted and talented events such as UKMT Maths Challenges and team challenges. Challenge events at Birmingham University and Maths Feast for year 10s at Solihull Sixth form College.

We also staff who are member of NCETM and who rum the fun Maths roadshow at the Big Bang national event at the NEC and Alderbrook is a lead school involved in transition projects with several local primary school.

Homework clubs are run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for all year groups and specific revision classes are available for pupils who are taking exams.

Career Options

A ‘C’ grade in Maths is often a minimum requirement for college courses and further training schemes.

Possible careers

Mathematicians can apply their logical reasoning abilities to numerous fields. Common career paths include:

  • Medicine
  • Science
  • Actuary
  • Architecture
  • Game designers
  • Engineering
  • IT and Computing
  • Automotive
  • Biosciences

 

University degrees that require or often prefer A level Maths include:

Studying Mathematics at A-Level lends itself to numerous potential degree courses, including:

  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Architecture
  • Actuarial Mathematics
  • Physics, Biology, Chemistry
  • Sports Science
  • Financial Services

*It is worth noting that research has shown a 10% increase in earning relative to those who do not study A level Maths.

Contact the Head of Department

For further information, please contact Mr C. Ogan