Subject Overview

Mathematics is a medium for learning to think algorithmically, systematically and independently. You will learn to draw on a range of techniques to solve multi-stage problems in a variety of contexts, and to apply higher order thinking across a range of contexts and disciplines. More importantly, you will get a glimpse of the underlying structure and observable patterns in the world around us. Mathematics is an important and highly regarded subject in its own right, but it is fundamental to many other undergraduate disciplines, notably Physics, Engineering and Economics. Other popular courses with a signi´Čücant mathematical element include Geography, Biology, Medicine, Management and Psychology.


Years 10-11

Maths is a core part of the GCSE curriculum. You will learn how to think systematically and algorithmically and to apply your thinking skills to abstract problems as well as problems in context. You will also learn to cast a critical eye over statistical information presented in the media and to present a reasoned argument both verbally and on paper. Mathematics is a medium through which you may gain more insight into the world around you (both natural and man-made).

Course content
You will study OCR Syllabus J560.
Mathematics is taught in six or seven sets which are generally settled by the end of Lower Grammar, but some movement of pupils may take place during the course of Grammar and Syntax. Sets 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are entered for the Higher Tier GCSE papers. In addition, set 1 are also entered for the OCR Additional Maths paper, which is a free standing unit counting for up to 20 UCAS points. Pupils in set 6 are entered for the Foundation Tier GCSE papers. This limits their final GCSE grade to a maximum of a grade 5, but they are generally happier succeeding on a limited syllabus than struggling with more advanced material.

The new grading scale uses the numbers 1–9 to identify levels of performance (with 9 being the top level). Maths is tiered with an ‘improved overlapping tiers model’, with a Foundation tier covering grades 1- 5 and a Higher tier covering grades 4-9.

Assessment model

  • 3 papers at each tier, all equal length (1½ hours) and equally weighted towards the qualification.
  • Subject content and AO weightings are equal across papers at each tier.
  • Two papers at each tier where candidates are allowed access to a calculator.
  • One non-calculator paper at each tier.
  • 100 marks per paper, giving us a large scope for awarding more method marks within questions, so candidates may be rewarded for each correct step on the way towards an answer, even if their final answer is incorrect.

Members of the top two sets in Grammar and Syntax are entered for the UK Maths Challenge, and some preparation for this takes place after Christmas. It is usual for a number of pupils to obtain gold medals; some may progress to further rounds of the competition. In addition, there is an annual interline team challenge, and various other externally organised competitions and puzzle days.

Higher Line and Higher Education Options
Pupils should have achieved at least level 7 in GCSE Mathematics to contemplate taking Maths A level but level 8 is recommended. Even this is no guarantee that a pupil will cope well with the subject at A level. The jump in standard is a significant one, and successful A-level pupils are those who enjoy dealing with the abstract, enjoy a challenge and have intellectual stamina. The same is true of Mathematics within the IB Diploma: HL Maths is somewhere between A-level Maths and Further Maths in standard, and SL Maths is somewhere between A/S and A2 Maths in standard. A level 9 is recommended for entry to the HL course, and a level 7 or above to the SL course.

A Mathematics degree provides excellent training of the mind for a variety of careers. It is still seen as a rigorous academic subject and as such is a highly desirable attribute for a potential employer across a broad range of industries and professions. The experience of OS who have recently graduated is that the mathematicians are the first to find employment and generally have a higher starting salary than those from other disciplines. Mathematics is also an important supporting subject for Engineering, Physics, Finance, Economics, Management and many others: many admissions tutors insist on a good grade in Maths A-level, even if a grade in the chosen subject at A-level is not required.

A Level (sixth form)

The emphasis will be on pure mathematics, but there will also be some statistics and an element of mechanics.

A Level further Mathematics OCR syllabus b (mei)

In addition to developing the material seen in Maths, there will be an opportunity to study new branches of the subject such as numerical methods.

IB (sixth form)

The IB Mathematics curriculum has been updated this year, to adapt to the evolving mathematics requirements in academia, industry and society. We will be offering three options for IB Mathematics study:

HL analysis & approaches
A challenging and exciting syllabus designed for able mathematicians who are looking for intellectual challenge and those who wish to pursue degree courses such as Mathematics, Engineering, Physics and Economics at Russell Group universities.

SL analysis & approaches
A course designed for confident mathematicians who may well be considering degree courses with a significant mathematical content, such as Management Science, Architecture, Psychology and some Economics courses. Has extensive use of Graphical Display Calculators (GDCs).

SL applications & interpretations
With an emphasis on statistics and logical understanding, this course is suitable for those wishing to study humanities, arts and social sciences at degree level.