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About

Our Curriculum

 Mathematical developments have underpinned the technological and information revolutions that have transformed the modern world, and yet the subject is far more than simply a valuable tool for scientists, engineers and financial analysts: it is a beautiful, powerful, enriching and immensely stimulating subject.

What is mathematics about? In your experiences to date it may only be about learning how to solve specific types of questions, but this is a very incomplete and unfair picture of the subject. Mathematics is the study of patterns and structure. Mathematicians are key individuals in such a wide variety of roles in today’s world because of their ability to think abstractly and to generalise concepts, and these skills are the skills we will teach you.

At King’s Maths School, you will learn to think rigorously and precisely, but also creatively, to solve problems. You will learn to construct arguments and to justify them confidently. Mathematicians are the world’s greatest problem solvers, and you will join their ranks.

This page explains what you will learn at King's Maths School, in both our academic and broader curriculum. To see a succinct description of the current courses available to our students, click here. If you still have questions about our curriculum that are not answered by the information on this site, please do get in touch with us.

Mathematics

There are several strands to the mathematics curriculum. In Core Mathematics you answer many intriguing questions. 

How can you solve the equation x² = -4 ? 

Why can’t you solve x² + 5y² = 10003  if x and y are integers? 

How does your calculator know that sin45° = 0.707... ? 

Which is larger, √7π or π√7 

In Mechanics you study motion and change: why do you fall backwards when the tube carriage lurches forward? How do you kick a football over the goalkeeper and into the net? Why can you predict solar eclipses next century but not the weather next Tuesday? In Statistics you learn how to make justifiable inferences despite the ineradicable presence of uncertainty. How likely is it that the number 785994771137 is a prime number (and why might the CIA want to know?) How do farmers set next year’s wheat prices? What’s the best way of choosing your spouse? In Decision Mathematics you examine how many of the world's modern problems are solved by computational algorithms. What's the most efficient way to multiply two huge numbers? What is so hard about the travelling salesman problem?

Throughout mathematics lessons, your teachers will encourage you to put forward your own ideas, and will help you to build them, either independently or collaboratively, into powerful and general methods. There will be specific lessons dedicated to improving your ability to solve difficult, abstract problems, and developing your ability to explain your ideas confidently and coherently, both verbally and on paper.

Physics

Physics is about trying, rather successfully as it turns out, to make sense of the world we live in through mathematics. It is often an extreme science: about the very big and the very small, the very heavy and the very light, the very fast and the very slow, the very long lasting and the very short-lived. It is about how and why things work, and about what makes things appear and behave in the way they do. It deals with the historical development of ideas as well as with some of the most important technological and environmental issues of our time. It is the most fundamental and wide ranging of the sciences. In short, it is about everything.

In Physics lessons you will learn about the strange and wonderful world of quantum concepts, and you will develop an in-depth knowledge of electricity, vectors, forces, energy and waves. Where many students of A-level Physics must satisfy themselves with qualitative explanations that are often awkward and unconvincing, you will learn to understand Physics using its natural language, Mathematics.

Computing

Computing has been fundamental to many of the exciting scientific and technological advances of the 21st century; from modern conveniences such as Oyster cards, to DNA sequencing, or number-crunching data generated by the Large Hadron Collider.

Computing lessons will focus on developing the ability to think computationally, that is, how to break down a probelm into a logical series of steps, which can then be written as a program and executed by a computer. We will use computational problems from mathematics and physics to motivate key ideas in programming, such as loops, conditionals, data structures and data types. Topics such as set theory and graph theory, which lie within decision mathematics, find important applications when understanding how to write code that is efficient and reliable.

In particular, you will learn to program, using the Python language. You will study what algorithms are, how they work and how to make use of them, and how to bring this knowledge into Mathematics as a powerful way of solving problems.

Economics

In this year’s general election, the Labour Party decried the “slowest economic recovery in over a hundred years”, and promised if elected to increase the national minimum wage and focus on tax avoidance to achieve a budget surplus. The Conservative Party claimed to be building “a stronger, healthier economy – and securing a better future for Britain” through cutting income tax, reducing immigration and investing in education. Whose strategy do you think is better, and why?

In A-Level economics, we will tackle these key questions: in our study of Macroeconomics we will concern ourselves with understanding and questioning these large-scale economic factors effecting whole countries and the world, including interest rates and productivity. In our study of Microeconomics, we will look closer to home, at the actions and decisions of individuals and groups including questioning how are prices set, and why? How do producers know how much to produce? Why are some markets inefficient, and what does the Government do to intervene?

The Extended Curriculum

King’s Maths School aims to develop a broader set of skills than is possible through A-levels alone.

The Extended Project Qualification

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which is equivalent to half an A-level in scope and in UCAS weighting, is an opportunity for students to complete exciting and independent work in a field of interest. Many students choose to create or design something, for example in the fields of engineering, software development or robotics, and the school features a dedicated design laboratory space to enable such projects. Other students choose to continue to develop their knowledge of a chemistry or biology, or undertake a project in the humanities, and the EPQ is a novel way to do so. Every EPQ requires a formal write-up as well as a presentation, and thus provides an excellent opportunity to develop communication skills and literacy.

The university plays a key part in our EPQ programme: each student is given the opportunity to meet a King’s academic working in their chosen subject area with whom they can discuss the project.

Problem solving

Students meet with a PhD mathematician once each week to develop their skill in problem solving. The problems set are unusual, are designed to encourage creativity as well as skill in communicating mathematical ideas. This programme is not only intellectually stimulating but provides vital preparation for university learning.

Sport and Exercise

Our programme of sport is designed to encourage all students to take up a form of exercise that they enjoy and that will help them to live healthy lives.

The school makes use of King’s College London and local facilities to provide options that are all within walking distance of the school. Each Tuesday afternoon students choose between playing football, engaging in a fitness programme at the university’s fitness centre in Waterloo, going bouldering, doing mixed martial arts and playing table tennis.

Care, Guidance and Support

Excellent care, guidance and support is integral to the success of our students. Each student is assigned a house group and a tutor. Tutors get to know their students very well. They keep an eye on students’ well-being as well as on their academic attainment, and they support students in the journey young person to young adult. Once each fortnight you will meet your tutor for a one-to-one academic mentoring session between 4 and 4.30pm.

Students need personal, social and employability skills as well as academic skills, knowledge and understanding. Tutors assess the skills of their tutees and support students to improve those skills that are in need of development.

Clubs and Societies

Lunchtime and after-school clubs and societies are a great way for students to develop their interests. The most popular is Robotics Club, where Dr Matthew Howard (lecturer in robotics at King’s College London) teaches students to build and programme Lego EV3 robots. There is also Drama Club, Board Games Club, Philosophy Club, Cryptic Crosswords Club, Chess Club, Anime Club, Art Club, Book Club, Film Club, Latin Club, Astoronomy Club.. and more!

Extension

At King’s Maths School, you will be challenged in each and every lesson. We also have a weekly slot dedicated to extension: here you will be prepared for challenging examinations including Oxford and Cambridge admissions tests.

All students are prepared for entry to the Senior Mathematics Challenge and the Physics AS and A2 Challenges. There is also optional support to enter the Mathematics, Physics and Informatics Olympiads.

Qualifications

At the end of year 12 you will an AS level in either Computer Science or Economics. At the end of year 13, you will sit full A levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics. Everyone starts on the EPQ programme as part of a broader curriculum that develops your academic literacy; those who progress to the full EPQ will submit it during year 13. You will also be prepared to sit one or more of the extension papers that universities set to help differentiate the very best candidates: the AEA (Advanced Extension Award) and Cambridge STEP (Sixth Term Examination Paper) qualifications. You may also be invited to sit other extension papers, for example the Physics Aptitude Test depending on your university applications. Throughout the curriculum you will often cover material that is not strictly examinable, but which is interesting and which develops your skills as a mathematician, a problem solver and a life-long learner.

Futures

We use the umbrella term 'futures' to talk about both university and careers.

Progression to University

With the help of the experts at King’s College London we help students to select the courses and universities they want to apply for.

Spring term (year 12): we put on a sequence of talks and visits designed to help students figure out what subject area they want to study. Talks across the year also encourage alternative options to university, in particular competitive internships and apprenticeships.

Summer term (year 12): after AS exams, we take students to at least three different universities and encourage them to attend two more of their choice. We provide detailed guidance and support about the application process, and in particular the personal statement.

Autumn term (year 13): with AS results in hand, students finalise their decisions with our advice, and submit their applications.

Our first cohort is mid-way through this process, so we don’t have any outcomes to share. But we do have staff with significant and successful experience of guiding high-attaining students through the UCAS process.

Careers

There is a perception that people who are good at mathematics go on to become either accountants, teachers, or academics. The reality is that in the modern world, mathematically well-trained minds go into a hugely diverse range of different fields and industries. Here are just some examples: aerospace, defence, bioscience, business, construction, consultancy, finance, engineering, government, healthcare, social science, chemicals. You can learn more about how mathematics is a door-opening subject at www.mathscareers.org.uk

We support every King’s Maths School student to do some form of work placement or experience during their two years at the school, usually completed in the summer after AS exams.

The School Day

Teenagers need a lot of sleep, so King’s College London Mathematics School will start its day later than traditional schools. School starts at 9:15am and there are six 50 minute lessons each day, which will end at 4pm with the option of staying later to discuss problems with your peers, engage in independent study, or speak to your teachers. 

If you have any queries please email the school at mathsschool@kcl.ac.uk

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