"Sir, did you know that an infinite number of monkeys sitting in front of an infinite number of typewriters, if given an infinite amount of time will produce the complete works of Shakespeare?" This was not relevant to the task in hand. A few other pupils sitting nearby looked up so I replied, "Why employ an infinite number of monkeys when a finite number will do?" There was silence for a moment before another pupil sitting nearby replied, "Yes, I can see that argument. You see…" Perfect, I thought, now they are well and truly off task and going off on a tangent. Now that is learning.
Whilst pupils at Ibstock Place School experience an enriched Mathematics curriculum and learn to use a wide range of resources, they are, more importantly, given every opportunity to develop a positive and confident attitude to Mathematics, to find it fascinating, to see that it is practical and to marvel at its power. Rather than seeing mathematical learning as acquiring a set of computational procedures, we emphasise problem solving, reasoning, justifying ideas, making sense of complex situations and identifying relationships between different areas of mathematics. This is achieved in the classroom, prep activities, assemblies, maths challenges, clubs, competitions, visits and visitors.
It is exciting to see pupils investigating mathematical ideas, testing and proving their own hypotheses and preparing clear and precise presentations about their work, and it is rewarding to see pupils develop the ability to reason and communicate mathematically. The reason that we, the staff, find this exciting and rewarding is because we are committed and enthusiastic mathematicians ourselves. That Mathematics is so popular at A Level is testament to this.
Competitions, clubs, visits and activities
Pupils enter the UKMT National Maths Challenges at Junior, Intermediate and Senior Levels; several IPS pupils have qualified for the later rounds. We are also part of the UKMT Mentoring Scheme.
Each year a team of four pupils enters the Hans Woyda Mathematics Competition. Pupils enjoy trips to Maths in Action, Maths Inspiration and Royal Statistical Society lectures. More able pupils are invited to join Infinity Club and attend Masterclasses at the Royal Institution and the Maths Circle at Imperial College.
All pupils are encouraged to participate in the many supporting clubs, including Puzzle Club, and Mathematics quiz competitions, to attend the visiting Mathematics speaker programme, and to get involved in organised events such as ‘Mobius Day’ in the School Library.
The Aims of the Mathematics Department are:
- to provide continuity in mathematical development through the Senior School with teaching that challenges, inspires and stimulates mathematical curiosity;
- to teach mathematics effectively, giving increased attention to mathematical reasoning and problem solving;
- to ensure that pupils have the necessary mathematical skills and ability to apply known relationships and techniques in Mathematics lessons, and in other subject disciplines in the School;
- to ensure that every pupil is given the opportunity to obtain the best possible grade in (I)GCSE and A Level, and a firm foundation for appropriate further studies;
- to prepare pupils for the demands of Higher Education and careers beyond and to meet the challenges of a changing world.
All PVI pupils study Edexcel (I)GCSE Mathematics at Higher Level and pupils who are most able in the subject may take an additional examination paper leading to the Additional Mathematics qualification. Other pupils may tackle as much of the syllabus as is appropriate to them, although there is no necessity to sit the examination; the content is a valuable introduction to the Pure and Applied A Level Mathematics syllabus.
Mathematics is one of the most popular subjects in the Sixth Form and the most able pupils are keen to extend their learning even further through Further Mathematics. Ibstonians have gone on to read Mathematics at Imperial College and King’s College, London. A significant number of pupils have gone on to pursue Mathematics-related degrees in Engineering, Medicine, Finance and Economics at Cambridge, Imperial College, Bristol and Bath, amongst others.