A changing approach for Further Maths

By James Welham, Head of Maths

With around 90,000 students in the UK opting for A Level Maths, and around 15,000 of those opting for Further Maths, Maths remains a popular choice, both at Bedales and in the UK, and highly regarded by universities.
Up to now we have taught Further Maths distinctly from Maths: different classes ensuring that those opting for further mathematics were taught separately. In 6.1, Further Maths students completed the Maths A Level, waiting until 6.2 to start – and complete within the year – the Further Maths A Level. Whilst this approach has many merits, it also has some negative impacts on both groups of students.
I am deeply conscious of the challenges that the current Block 5 students have faced.  Two periods of national lockdown and the uncertainty of grades this summer has meant that students starting their studies in September will do so from a very different point than might have done under normal teaching conditions.  With that in mind, giving students the best possible chance to succeed with maths has never been more important.  Therefore we are going to change the way we teach Further Maths next year.

Students opting for Maths and Further Maths in September will learn both A Levels in parallel. In 6.1, students will start both the Maths and Further Maths A Levels, taking the full two years to complete both courses.  They will learn mathematics alongside single maths students, mixing with their peers and importantly taking time to revise and build upon their work at IGCSE.  In Further Maths classes they will study Core 1, the first of the two compulsory modules, and be introduced to topics such as Complex numbers and Matrices.  They will also study Decision Mathematics, a new area of mathematics for many and one with applications to computer science.  Studying these two modules in 6.1 offer an early opportunity for pupils to be introduced to some interesting and challenging ideas whilst exploring new areas of maths.  In 6.2, students will complete their study of Maths and study two more modules, so completing Further Maths.

For those students whom this will affect, I hope that this explanation will bring both clarity and a sense of excitement about what next year might hold.

Maths gets messy

By Greg Clarke, Teacher of Maths

I am not sure what you are supposed to do first thing on a wintery Tuesday morning in lockdown, but how about an hour of mind-bending maths problem solving?! That is the reality for a flourishing community of Bedales students as we gather to address a range of enigmas, conundrums and posers that would challenge the intellect of any Bedalian, old or new, even – dare I say – that arch puzzler, Gyles Brandreth!

Messy Maths at 8.20am on Tuesdays in the Garrett Time activity slot has something for everyone. In the first week of lockdown, we looked at some of the hardest ever GCSE maths questions, including one or two problems that caused a furore on social media amongst students at the time. This was ideal for our most fearless students, particularly those thinking about doing or already doing Further Maths at A Level. For others, who understandably wanted a gentler start to a Tuesday morning, there were puzzles starting at one-star, such as: ‘A cage contains birds and rabbits. There are 16 heads and 38 feet. How many birds are in the cage?’

From there, you can move onto two-star problems. Just this week, we have introduced three-star problems and they are getting difficult: one mentions the radicals of a triplet of relatively prime positive integers, which gave me a queasy turn as I recalled baffling university lectures (it’s like that dream where it’s the night before your finals and you haven’t done any revision and you’ve forgotten everything because you haven’t been a student for 30 years!) So, it’s no surprise that I can’t find the inclination to contemplate the four-star problems just yet.

To complete the picture of what goes on in Messy Maths, we also offer the Oxford and Cambridge maths entrance questions for our serious-minded sixth formers. At the beginning, I thought I was going to be bombarded with questions, but everyone just gets on with thinking about what to do for themselves and the only time I ever get called upon is to answer the most popular question: “Can I check my answer?”

Block 3 student and Messy Maths regular Shoshana Yugin-Power says: “I have been really enjoying the maths and I am hopefully going to do some more work on sin and cos over the weekend.” Shoshana is one of around 100 Bedales students who entered the UK Intermediate Maths Challenge this week, an annual maths competition that has shifted online this year. Bedales has a good success record for several years, with plenty of Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, as well as invitations to the next challenge – the Kangaroo. 

Like I said, Messy Maths has something for everyone. Have you tried the birds and rabbits question yet? The answer is… Sorry, you’ll just have to come along to find out!

UKMT Intermediate Maths Challenge success


By Martin Hanak, Head of Maths

Every year around 200,000 students from the UK take part in the UKMT Intermediate Maths Challenge and the top-scoring 40% of participants are awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates in the ratio 3:2:1. This year, 72 Bedalians were among the participants. Congratulations to the students who were awarded certificates, listed below:

Block 3: 7 bronze and 3 silver certificates

Bronze: Candice Kamal, Joe Cullen, Rafael Legorburu, John Hall, Katharine Cecil, Meiya Feng, Reuben Stannah

Silver: Archie Holmes, Dylan Hui, Izzy Land

Block 4: 13 bronze and 5 silver certificates

Bronze: Daisy Taylor, Mike Wei, Ben Greening, Connor O’Donoghue, Nate Shuster, Beatrice Lingham, Pim Rippinger, Anna Anikieva, Arlo Martin, Jac Wheeler, John Wentworth-Stanley, Teo Sydow-Elias, Rowena le Poer Trench

Silver: Renee Luo, Benjamin Tsang, Gabriella Stephenson, Chubbs Bailey, Coco Witheridge

Block 5: 3 silver and 2 gold certficates
Silver: Zakhar Gabriadze, Adam Forsyth, Raef Macnaghten

Gold: Annabelle Snell, LJ Phelan Continue reading

Senior Maths Challenge success


By Martin Hanak, Head of Maths

At the beginning of November, 20 students from Block 5, 6.1 and 6.2 volunteered to sit the Senior Maths Challenge.

Around 80,000 from across the UK took part in the competition; 15 Bedalians were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates, with Aidan Hall, Maggie Luo and Annabelle Snell all winning Gold. They also qualified for the next round, the Senior Kangaroo, which places them amongst the top 10% of all the mathletes that took part in the competition.

Continue reading