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07 March 2017

Prime Minister visits King's Maths School

Prime Minister Theresa May visited the King’s College London Mathematics School (KCLMS) yesterday as she announced that this week’s Budget will confirm an investment boost for good school places for every child in the UK.

Pupils at King's Maths School
Pupils at King's Maths School

Recognising the success of the specialist maths school, the Prime Minister met the School’s Head Teacher Dan Abramson and some current students, and visited both a mathematics lesson, in which students were deriving a regression formula, and a physics lesson involving standing waves, and their link to the electron. The Prime Minister revealed that the Treasury will boost investment with over half a billion pounds going to schools to build on her commitment to ensure that every child has the opportunity of a place at a good school, whatever their background.

Dan Abramson said: ‘We’re delighted that the Prime Minister chose to visit our school and recognise the impact we’ve had in just two years. I’m proud to have worked with such bright young minds, who are already on route to great things. It’s great news that the Government is committed to expanding the maths schools programme.’

Last summer students at the school celebrated their A-level results with 100 per cent receiving an A* or A grade in Mathematics, including 83% gaining an A*. In addition 95% attained the highest A-Level grades (A*, A or B), and in terms of student attainment KCLMS is already the top performing mixed state school in the country. Students at KCLMS also make more progress from GCSE to A-level than at almost any other A-level provider in the country.

KCLMS has some of the highest proportions for progression to university as well, with 85% of the first graduates currently at the most competitive universities (Russel Group / Sutton Trust 30), and as many as 23% of the current Year 13 students holding an Oxbridge offer. Over half of graduates are now studying mathematics, nearly a quarter physics or engineering, and a further 15% computer science.

Further funding for similar schools to KCLMS has been guaranteed as the Chancellor will confirm tomorrow the extension of the free schools programme with investment of £320 million to help fund up to 140 schools, creating well over 70,000 new places. This will build on the government’s ongoing commitment to open 500 new free schools by September 2020, giving parents greater choice in finding a good school for their child.

King’s have been involved in the development of the curriculum at the School, which combines Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Economics and Computer Science A-Levels with the Extended Project Qualification that enables students to pursue individual research and construction projects. A relatively high proportion of girls at the School (34 percent of students are girls) shows that it is widening participation in subjects in which girls have been historically under-represented girls studying these STEM subjects (the current national proportions are, at A-level, 29 per cent in Further Maths, 21 per cent in Physics, 9 per cent in Computer Science, 32 per cent in Economics). Mr Abramson has realised a vision for a school at which students are motivated by inspirational staff as well as by each other, and learn in a dynamic space designed to nurture creative thinking.

Other investment boosts outlined by the Chancellor this week include:

  • A further £216 million of investment in school infrastructure to help rebuild and refurbish existing schools to ensure children are taught in facilities fit for the 21st century. This will build on existing plans to spend over £10 billion on the condition of schools over this Parliament.
  • The expansion of the current ‘extended rights’ entitlement for children who access free home-to-school travel to cover selective schools. This will help to ensure that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have every chance to access the best possible education and that the cost of transport is not a barrier. This expansion means that children on free school meals or whose parents claim the Maximum Working Tax Credit will now receive free transport to attend a selective school within two to 15 miles.

With schools funding at its highest level on record, at over £40 billion this year, these commitments take the next steps on the significant progress being made to ensure that every child can access a high quality school place, whatever their background.

Almost 1.8 million more pupils are taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 and as a result of widespread reforms and the hard work of teachers, 89% of schools in England are now rated as good or outstanding – the highest proportion ever recorded.  

But the government recognises that more must be done, with over 1 million children at underperforming schools. Expanding the free schools programme is one part of the Prime Minister’s ambitious agenda to give parents a greater choice in finding a good school for their child, and these new announcements support the plans set out in the ‘Schools That Work For Everyone’ Green Paper, with a White Paper set to be published in the coming months.  

Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘For too many children, a good school place remains out of reach with their options determined by where they live or how much money their parents have.

‘Over the last six years we have overseen a revolution in our schools system and we have raised standards and opportunity, but there is much more to do.

‘As part of our commitment to creating a school system that works for everyone, today we are confirming new investment to give parents a greater choice of a good school place for their child, and we will set out the next stage of our ambitions in the coming months.’

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: ‘Investing in education and skills is the single most important thing that we can do to equip our children for the future. We are not starting from scratch; we have protected the core schools budget, which stands at over £40 billion this year, and these announcements take the next steps in giving parents greater choice in finding a good school for their child, whatever their background.’