Senior School Maths Setting
Pupils progress mathematically at different rates and we feel that all pupils do a lot better when they are working at a speed appropriate to their ability. We also feel that the pupils who find Mathematics challenging need more support, thus we have fewer pupils in lower sets.
Module tests for First to Fourth Forms
Every three or four weeks, all pupils in a year group will sit a common module test based on the material that has recently been taught. From the Second Form onwards a module test will have two sections: Section A is the easier section and tests the essential parts of a module; Section B is an extension section that is designed to be challenging for the top sets. As a result pupils in the lower sets are encouraged to concentrate on section A, which they will receive a separate mark for, but the overall score is recorded to aid us with setting. The pass mark for these module tests is typically 40%,taken as a whole they are hard, often made up of past examination questions, and require revising for - but 40% reflects the typical C grade boundary of the Higher GCSE that is so important to our pupils’ future. In section A our top set students should be aiming for 100% and our lower set students should be aiming for at least 50%.
Each module test is supported by a practice test which is available on Moodle. Typically, pupils will be set the practice test for homework. The test will then be gone over in class so pupils can go home and revise for the actual module test mentioned above. Revising for these module tests is essential and we offer a help desk facility for pupils seeking extra guidance outside lessons.
We are passionate that pupils who try hard and perform well throughout the year deserve the opportunity to move up a Mathematics set. This inevitably means that a few pupils who are not performing so well in a higher set might have to move down a set to accommodate high achievers from a set below.
As you are no doubt aware we achieve excellent results from all of our pupils. This is in part due to the consideration we pay to the appropriateness of the sets in which we place our pupils. We do not claim that every single pupil in Kimbolton School is in exactly the right set for their whole academic career; however we never lose sight of our ultimate aim in giving every pupil their best opportunity of gaining their best possible examination grade in the Fifth Form. It is our experience that the vast majority of pupils perform at their best when in a set surrounded by pupils of like ability and that pupils who find Mathematics a real challenge do better in smaller sets where more individual attention is possible. In fact pupils in lower sets can, and have, out-performed pupils from higher sets in public exams.
Based on the last three years, the number of pupils in sets 1-5 achieving grades A* to D from the Fifth Form have been as follows:
From the Second Form there are five Mathematics sets in each year group. This allows for smaller sets four and five (typically we will have 24-25 pupils in a top set going down to about 15 in a fourth set and 9 or 10 pupils in a fifth set). Pupils are placed in Mathematics sets based almost exclusively on their performance in Mathematics tests. In addition to our module tests, at the end of each year there is an examination based on all the work covered to date. This end of year test is extremely important in determining the Mathematics set for the following year. However, we also have several module test scores to take into account and thus consistently good performance throughout the year can make up for a bad day in the end of year test. All practice tests, with answers, will continue to be available on Moodle and should be reviewed as part of the revision process.
Furthermore we review our sets at Christmas and at Easter. Whole scale movements at these times will not happen but for the odd pupil doing exceptionally well an upward movement is possible, as is a downward movement for a pupil who is struggling to keep up with his or her classmates.
The Mathematics Department operates a help desk, open every day during lunchtime (13:10-14:15). Typically pupils in the Fifth and Sixth Form use this facility the most, especially in the lead up to public examinations, but we are there to help everyone and are delighted when younger pupils come to ask for help with prep or practice tests.
We view the teaching of Mathematics to be a partnership between the teaching staff the pupils and their parents and actively encourage all pupils to take some responsibility in their learning. We will encourage pupils to attend our help desk if we feel they are struggling in class, but will not force them to.
Obviously the more pupils put into a subject the more they will get out; any additional help they receive can only be a benefit whether it be from us in help desks or at home.
Feedback and Assessments
We have a detailed database for each year group that includes all previous Mathematics results and helps us with accurate academic assessments. Based on the module tests taken to date, for the first three year groups we typically give the top 35-45% of our students an assessment grade A, the next 25-35% a B, then the next 20-30% a C and a few pupils a D grade. In the Fifth Form we can base assessments on past examination papers and thus give a very clear indication as to the grade they are working at. Pupils from the top set should all get A grades, the second set should get As and Bs, the third Bs, the fourth set Bs and Cs and the fifth set will typically get Cs with the odd D grade. Thus when you receive the assessment grade for your child you should know if they are performing roughly in line with the set they are in.
Our Mathematics learning area on FOLDR is a resource that should be utilised by all pupils.
The scheme of work for each year group is available here and has references to the hundreds of worksheets also available. Furthermore all the practice tests are available to download well in advance. After doing a practice test the mark scheme is typically released before the actual test, allowing pupils to do the practice test on their own as many times as they like in order to prepare for the main test of the modules work. These practice tests then become an excellent resource for the end of year test.
Mathematics in the Sixth Form
Mathematics is a very popular choice at A level. There are usually five Mathematics sets in the Lower Sixth, four doing single Mathematics and one doing Further Mathematics. Further Mathematics is a challenging course and should only be considered by a few pupils from the top set, although we have had the occasional success story from pupils who were in the second set in the 5th Form. Of the single mathematicians, from 2012 we will have four sets which will be roughly set according to ability. We are supportive of the majority of pupils from sets 1 and 2 who wish to study AS level mathematics. A few pupils from set 3 have been successful in the past but for the majority of set 3 we do not advise them to study AS mathematics. All pupils will have had to show some determination in the 4th and 5th Forms and have had to be aiming for an A* at IGCSE. Pupils who have not covered the majority of the A* material in the Fifth Form will struggle in the Sixth Form. For more details about the A level syllabus see below in the Appendix.
APPENDIX – Setting by Year Group
In the first form pupils will initially be taught in their form groups. After pupils have done four short module tests on different aspects of number work (integer arithmetic, factors and primes, decimals and percentages) they will be placed into sets for the second half of the first term based entirely on their average score for the tests. They will then do two more mini tests (on fractions and ratios) before doing a comprehensive Numeracy Test based on all the work covered, this will be in late November or early December. We will then adjust the sets if necessary. We will also look at other aspects of Mathematics such as Shape and Space and Algebra, but for one lesson each week we will continue looking at Numeracy.
We are very keen that numeracy is continued throughout the year and Dr Yallup, who administers the first form scheme of work, has introduced numeracy awards which range from Bronze standard to Platinum standard, examples of which can be found on FOLDR. Setting will be looked at again after an Algebra test near Easter and at the end of the year.
Setting First to Second Form
Moving from four sets in the first form to sets 1 through 5 in the Second Form will inevitably mean that there will be many changes in the sets. In setting at the end of the first year several factors are taken into account; the end of year examination is the most important but performance in the tests throughout the year matter, as does our professional judgement.
Setting Second to Third Form
At the beginning of the Third Form we have a small extra intake, typically ten pupils, which inevitably affects the setting at the end of the Second Form more than in future years.
Setting Third to Fourth Form
We cover GCSE and IGCSE material throughout First to Third Forms. However they do not officially start these courses until the Fourth Form. The basic material for both courses is initially very similar and hence many topics will be covered by all pupils, especially in the Fourth Form.
However sets 1 and 2 are ultimately being prepared for the IGCSE and also for an additional qualification called Level 2 Further Pure.
Set 4 is prepared for GCSE.
The decision between GCSE and IGCSE for set 3 is discussed during the year and will be entered for the qualification that we think would optimise their results.
Set 5 will be prepared for Foundation level GCSE during the Fourth year. This is to ensure that those pupils who struggle with Mathematics are given every opportunity to pass Mathematics at C level. Pupils who pass are then prepared for higher level GCSE and will aim for a B grade
It is our belief that the IGCSE is a better grounding for pupils who may consider AS Level Mathematics in the Sixth Form whilst the GCSE offers a better chance of gaining a C or B grade for our less mathematical pupils from sets 3, 4, and 5 for which AS level mathematics is not usually accessible.
Setting Fourth to Fifth Form
We try not to make any changes at this stage but do not rule out the possibility. It is worth noting that our top two sets are prepared for an additional qualification in Further Mathematics to enhance and enrich their education.
Setting in the Fifth Form
Single Mathematics is taught to four groups who are set roughly according to ability, allowing smaller sets for pupils who need more contact time.
Mathematics A Level
AS Mathematics comprises of three modules Core 1, Core 2 and an Applied Module (either Mechanics 1 or Statistics 1).
A2 Mathematics Comprises of six modules Core 1 to 4 and 2 Applied Modules (usually Stats 1 and Mech 1 but S1 S2 and M1 M2 are possibilities)
AS Further Mathematics comprises of 3 extra modules; FP1 and two applied modules (Stats 2 and Mech 2)
A2 Further Mathematics comprises of 6 modules; FP1,FP2, FP3 and three applied modules (possibly M2 M3 S2)
It is worth noting that our top set single mathematicians will be offered the opportunity to do three extra modules in the Sixth Form in order to come out with an A level in Mathematics and an additional AS in Further Mathematics. In the Lower Sixth they will be taught two extra modules throughout the year (Further Pure 1 and Mechanics 1) whilst studying Core 1 and Core 2, and Statistics 1 with the rest of the cohort. In the Upper Sixth they will then cover Core 3 and Core 4 with their Pure teacher and Mechanics 2 and Statistics 2 with their Applied teacher.