Curriculum Intent & Implementation

Our current curriculum design spans five years and is then refined for those electing to study Mathematics A-levels. We are at present, developing a framework of study to enable the transition from Key Stage 4 to Key Stage 5 to be more manageable for students. For our 5-year programme, the terms ‘Key Stage 3’ and ‘Key Stage 4’ merely serve to separate the years of study. The curriculum design commences in Year 7, with the aim being one of continual re-exposure. In simple terms, the curriculum design is intended to afford all students an excellent opportunity to become competent mathematicians at the very least.

In the worst-case scenario, we aim for students to be competent at recalling and applying relevant mathematical procedures in order to solve simplistic problems. Of course, the hope would be that students will develop a wholesome understanding of individual concepts over time. Continual re-exposure at measured time intervals, means that students are continually coming back to areas previously visited, with the aim each time being to enhance the clarity of concepts in the mind of the student. This is not only done with re-exposure, but with incremental increases in the level of difficulty of the concepts being delivered. A simple way to facilitate deeper understanding is to increase the proportion of problem-solving questions per topic over time, which is an additional facet of the design. In the very best cases, students will not only develop a fuller understanding of individual concepts, but draw on a very large knowledge base and apply understanding to a multitude of question types in context. Furthermore, some students might see the links that exist between relevant aspects of the curriculum.

Whilst assimilation of all of the various component knowledge can be spontaneous and sporadic, we aim to maintain a working record of overall progress for all students. Hence, from year 7 and throughout year 8, students will complete modules ordered chronologically in terms of difficulty. For example, the programme commences with our Level 1 modules; one for each of the overarching sections of the curriculum; Numeracy and Proportion, Algebra, Statistics and Shape. Once the Level 1 aspects of each subsection have been studied, a summative Level 1 Assessment will be completed by students. We will of course, observe results across the year group and analyse relative performance. For the purposes of relative performance (and ease of conveying concepts), we prefer to set students by ability. It is worth noting that the levelled modules were designed by Alderbrook staff and we are not purporting that delivering the curriculum in this way is necessarily optimal. However, our structure is based on a meaningful rationale.

Our year 7 and 8 modular design aims to ensure that students are getting exposure to all aspects of the curriculum from early on. We see it as important that there is an emphasis on statistical inferences and having an appreciation of statistical models for example, in addition to addressing the numerical and algebraic fundamentals, such as percentages, fractions, decimals and solving linear equations. Furthermore, with the modules spiralised, it means that students are continually revisiting the four over-arching sections at similarly spaced intervals.

In summary, the aim of the levelled modules is to ensure that all students have had an opportunity to address and assimilate the fundamentals of the curriculum. By this point, it is anticipated that students will have seen most of the content outlined by GCSE curricula as constituting Grades 1-5. Of course, we do have several, exceptional students for whom alternative provisions will be made (over five years). Such provisions are determined by the levels of ability of the individual students. As an example, it is not uncommon for some of our most able students to finish Year 11 with three GCSE’s (a standard GCSE, a Further Mathematics GCSE and the OCR Additional Maths GCSE). On rare occasions, students may commence a programme of A-level study early. The indication here is that no student is limited in any way by component content; the assumption is that more able students will operate at a quicker pace, thus accessing more challenging content as early as is necessary. Furthermore, our provisions for the more able extend to extra-curricular endeavours, such as entry for the Maths Challenges (this includes the Senior Maths Challenges at Key Stage 5). Of course, we cater for the full ability spectrum and we do have additional groups specifically designed for students who struggle to access our secondary curriculum (see Transition materials). This is the case from Years 7 to 11.

Year 9 is a transitory year; students are still exposed to all aspects of the curriculum as before, but the curriculum content is compartmentalised slightly differently. This change enables better preparation for the additional GCSE content which will not have been addressed prior to this point. In short, students will at this point, be exposed to more aspects of the curriculum and the amended ordering allows for greater graduation in terms of difficulty. The ordering of the curriculum for year 9 follows the same pattern in years 10 and 11. However, the principle aim of year 9 is to develop basic content knowledge. To be more concise, the aim is that students will be able to apply their knowledge base (defined by the aspects of the curriculum for which they have a working memory) to simplistic questions that do not require Higher Order Thinking Skills (essentially questions designed to meet the A01 criteria at GCSE level).

At this stage, it is timely to introduce the over-arching topic ordering from Year 9 onwards [emboldened content is generally not covered in Year 9 and also, Probability and Statistics is covered later in year 9 because we prioritise the more foundational skills derived from studying numeracy and algebra]:

  • Fundamental Number
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Fundamental Algebra
  • Further Number
  • Fundamental Shape
  • Further Graphical and Advanced Algebra
  • Advanced Shape
  • Vectors (higher tier only)

An elaborate explanation for this ordering at Key Stage 4 can be observed via our rationale (attached to Maths Dashboard). Simply put, this ordering enables for progression in an ordering that makes sense, given that not all aspects of the curriculum are interconnected. In fact, the GCSE comprises numerous, disjointed and unrelated aspects, so a programme where students see interconnected aspects at fairly regular intervals makes sense. Furthermore, it is important that these aspects are grouped together more rigorously than in lower school.

The above ordering does lend itself to both tiers of entry. As a generalisation, our two top sets will sit the higher tier GCSE, whilst our third set, middle-ability students will follow a bespoke programme with the aim of establishing the most appropriate tier of entry (we aim to establish this by the end of year 10). This programme addresses a lot of the cross-over content between tiers, whilst also addressing some of the Grade 6 GCSE content.

In terms of assessment, we run one cumulative assessment per half term throughout year 10. Such assessments have proven vital indicators of relative progress over recent years. This data serves to highlight areas for further development and streamline the delivery for year 11. To this end, Year 11 is designed to be a year of refinement, with individual staff honing in on identified areas for development and ensuring exposure to lots of problem-solving content. Simply put, this is often done through greater incorporation of A02 and A03 questions during lessons. As a further strategy, all students will complete weekly ‘Exam sheets’ in year 11. These homework assignments are designed by staff to address several aspects of the curriculum that have been taught prior.

We employ a multitude of strategies to ensure re-exposure to the curriculum over time. Homework is an essential strategy. It is important to note that staff teaching parallel year halves will set comparable homework week on week, whilst also sharing lesson materials and the like. This is the case throughout all years. Further to this, as a department, we are unwavering in our belief that review exercises (or ‘Starters’ or ‘Do it Now’ activities) are paramount to learning. Almost all lessons will feature starter exercises reviewing previous learning to some extent. Review exercises in years 7 and 8 can be used to address prior learning from the previous modules. For example, Level 1 numeracy component knowledge can be revisited via starters once the Level 2 numeracy module has commenced. In Years 9, 10 and 11, starter exercises will feature content previously taught on a rolling basis. So as an example, once fractions have been taught, they may appear in a handful of starter exercises thereafter. Used this way, review exercises become one of the most important aspects of learning over time.

Whilst it is not possible to accurately quantify the quality of a student’s learning journey, we do feel that a reasonable rationale will yield reasonable outcomes. Departmental outcomes have, over recent years, been outstanding (observe Progress 8 measures). But further to all of this, and a curriculum intent would not be complete with lighting on all of the means of implementation, we pride ourselves on being vigilant for and being able to develop positive, student-teacher relationships. As outlined by our departmental ethos, we believe that creating a positive environment conducive to learning takes precedence even over a well-designed curriculum. To this end, we see it as inexplicably important, that students have a positive experience of the subject, in addition to being well-taught. Positive experiences of learning lead to better learners in the long run.

Key Stage 5

Proud to offer three courses at Key Stage 5: AS Core Maths, Maths and Further Maths


Core Maths

Exam Board: AQA
Why Core Maths?

Core Maths is a new Level 3 course for students who achieve a Grade 5 or above pass at GCSE Maths. The qualification is designed to prepare students for the mathematical demands of work, study and life. The skills developed in the study of Mathematics are increasingly important in the workplace and in higher education; studying Core Maths will help you keep up these essential skills. However, Core Maths should not be seen as a replacement for A Level Maths but rather to compliment other A Level choices where Maths has not been chosen.


What will you study?

Alderbrook’s Core Maths course follows a two year specification, though there is the possibility that the course and subsequent exam may be completed in Year 12. Core Maths has been designed to maintain and develop real-life maths skills. What you study is not purely theoretical or abstract; it can be applied on a day-to-day basis in work, study or life. The course focuses primarily on statistics and finance and their real life application. It will also help with other A Level subjects, in particular with Science, Geography, Business Studies, Psychology and Economics.



Most students who study some form of Maths after GCSE improve their career choices and increase their earning potential. Employers from all different sectors are firmly behind the Core Maths qualification. Many roles in today’s workplace require high levels of budget management and problem-solving skills; Core Maths will be a useful tool in equipping you with these skills. The course has been developed with employers, universities and professional bodies as valuable preparation for higher education and employment.


Entry requirements

Minimum grade 5 in GCSE Maths

‘Mathematics is the door and key to the sciences ‘ 

Roger Bacon


Exam Board:Edexcel


Why A level Maths?

It has long been argued that the Maths GCSE curriculum in this country does not present adequate challenge for the most able mathematicians.  The curriculum consists largely of topics that require procedural methodologies and the various components are somewhat disjointed.  However, the A Level curriculum is arguably one of the most challenging Key Stage 5 courses and is highly regarded by universities and employers alike.  Unlike GCSE Mathematics, the A level begins to form links between the numerous elements of pure mathematics, which have actual application in the real world.  Success at A level requires much greater degrees of commitment, self-motivation and work ethic, even for the most able mathematicians.


What will you study?

Alderbrook’s A Level Maths Course follows the Edexcel specification. The two year course consists of two compulsory Pure Maths components and a further Statistics and Mechanics component.


University degrees that require or often prefer Maths include:

Computer ScienceEngineeringAccountingEconomicsArchitectureActuarial MathematicsPhysics, Biology, ChemistrySports Science.


Possible careers:

Medicine, science, actuary, architecture, game designers, engineering, IT and computing, automotive, biosciences, financial services.


Entry requirements:

Minimum grade 7 in GCSE Maths (8 preferable).

‘Maths defines the physical universe and everything that it contains. Welcome to the only axiomatically perfect subject; the only exact Science. Look left, look right, you cannot escape it. This is Maths! ‘



Further Maths

Exam Board: Edexcel


Why A level Further Maths?

Further Maths is arguably the most challenging A-Level course in this country, and is designed for students with elite mathematical abilities. In addition to ability, the ideal candidates possess an incredible work ethic.  Working towards a Further Maths A-level often boosts students’ marks in the standard Maths A-level due to the additional time attributed to studying mathematics. In addition, Further Maths equips students with essential, advanced mathematical skills required for the first year of maths-related degrees, which is why universities often favour this particular qualification. Students wishing to attend university will benefit greatly from this course; it requires a large proportion of independent study and dedication.


What will you study?

Alderbrook offers the Further Maths A Level (Edexcel specification). This course is designed for elite mathematicians and covers several aspects of maths that are taught at University level, such as matrices and differential equations.

The course is a combination of compulsory Further Pure Mathematics components and optional components from Further Statistics, Decision and Further Mechanics.


University degrees that require or often prefer Maths include:

Computer ScienceEngineeringAccounting, EconomicsArchitectureActuarial MathematicsPhysics, Biology, ChemistrySports Science.


Possible careers:

Medicine, science, actuary, architecture, game designers, engineering, IT and computing, automotive, biosciences, financial services.


Entry requirements:

At least a Grade 8 in GCSE Maths (GCSE in AQA Level 2 Further Mathematics preferable) and to be also studying A Level Maths.


‘A problem worthy of attack proves it’s worth by fighting back.’

Piet Hein


Extra-Curricular Opportunities

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 and Thursdays for all year groups and specific revision classes are available for pupils who are taking exams.


Skills for Success and Career Opportunities

In Maths, students will develop their problem solving skills, tenacity and determination and their ability to self – manage and reflect.

A Grade 4 in Maths (in some instances a Grade 5) 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  Richard Cox