Welcome to the Mathematics Department
Mathematics reveals hidden patterns that help us to understand the world we live in and gives us a language to describe the relationships we can see. The methods, tools and tactics you develop when tackling a mathematical problem, is the most valuable to students.
Every student is a unique mathematician who develops their own skills set and tools to solve problems. To be a successful mathematician, you need to welcome challenge. If you are not challenged, you do not make mistakes; if you do not make mistakes, feedback becomes irrelevant.
As individual teachers, we are the facilitators who guide our students on their journey to develop as a mathematician. Each year, we support students to build on their prior knowledge and see their learning journey as a progression, rather than separate blocks of time. We strive to challenge our students and encourage them to take risks. We understand the need for common approaches to methods, and the importance of different stimulus, activities and tasks to develop student’s understanding. We regularly assess their fluency, reasoning and how successful students are at applying their understanding to a problem; whilst also giving the opportunity to draw out any underlying misconceptions.
As a team, we promote a safe learning environment which is supported by appropriate levels of challenge for our learners. Everyone has valid opinions and views, but is expected to listen to each other and be prepared to provide evidence for their views. We continue to challenge our perception of best practice, and try new approaches and models where possible. We share our mistakes, and learn from each other. The key is being reflective practitioners, who aren’t afraid to take risks.
The processes of learning mathematics can help every learner in the outside world; our role is to give them the opportunities to see how.
All students in Years 7 to 11 have 7 mathematics lessons per fortnight. Students are grouped broadly in terms of prior attainment, and we currently have two parallel bands in each year group from Years 9 to 10. We still aim to teach in parallel groups within Years 10 and 11.
- 81% of students in year 11 gaining A*-C at GCSE (National 61%)
- Progress 8 score of 0.4
- 82% of students in year 11 made expected progress with 47% making more than expected.
- 69% of A Level students achieved grade B or above.
Mathematics homework can be set up to twice a week and is designed to promote students’ understanding and their ability to use mathematics in a variety of situations. Types of homework vary and could include using specialist language and definitions, consolidation exercises, revision for modules, practice papers and problem solving activities. All students are given individual logins to a variety of virtual learning environments, which give them access to video tutorials, practice questions and answers.
Homework is an important part of the curriculum. It is set on a weekly basis and support from home to ensure completion is very much appreciated. Homework can take a variety of forms; a written piece of work, a memorising task, an investigation or piece of research or tasks set on mymaths.
Homework is recorded on the Showmyhomework website for the convenience of parents and students.
Enrichment and KS2
The Maths Challenge
Previously high attaining students are regularly entered for the UKMT Maths Challenge. This is a national mathematics competition organised by The University of Leeds. We enter students into the individual challenges, as well as entering students for the Maths Team challenge events at a regional level. Many students achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates in the individual challenges and a few go on to participate in the more advance stages of the competition. Lesson time is dedicated to helping students prepare, through modelling and discussing strategies, whilst looking at an array of problems. Students are also invited to further preparation sessions if they are entered for subsequent rounds.
NRICH enriching mathematics
This website, supported by Cambridge University, aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. It is an excellent source of additional resources including puzzles, investigations and articles suitable for all ages.
Year 6 Maths Masterclasses
Each year we welcome about 60 pupils, nominated by their teachers, to the maths department to take part in our Year 6 Maths Masterclasses. The pupils, drawn from the Witney partnership primary schools, attend eight teaching sessions at Henry Box over the year. The course aims to give young mathematicians a wider appreciation of the subject and to introduce them to ways of thinking about problems which will be useful in all their future studies.
The course has been running since 2006 and we have now seen many of its participants go on to study maths at A-level and beyond.
University of Oxford – Mathematical Institute Lectures
The content of the course covers the five strands of the National Curriculum: Number, Algebra, Ratio, proportion and rates of change, Geometry and measures and Probability and statistics. The programmes of study include using and applying standard techniques, reasoning, interpreting and communicating mathematically and problem solving in a range of contexts. Numeracy skills and fluency as well as the efficient use of a calculator and ICT are key features of the course.
We use the Kangaroo Mathematics schemes of works, which promote deeper understanding and challenge for students rather than acceleration which can often miss out the beauty of mathematics.
Key Stage 3
Mathematics at Key Stage 3 focuses on improving core skills whilst continuing to develop an enjoyment of the subject. Enrichment and extension opportunities are widespread, and the use of ICT is embedded into the curriculum. Teaching assistants are used in selected classes to increase confidence and engagement of students with particular needs.
In Years 7 and 8, students are set by overall ability in the subject in half year bands. This setting is reviewed at key points during the year. Students progress at different rates even within a set and it is common for students to be better at some topics than others. The curriculum takes the form of 11 modules lasting approximately three weeks; this is interspersed with assessments, rich and extended tasks to develop problem-solving skills, and a focused enrichment week.
Homework is set at least once a week, and each module may be assessed by the class teacher in a number of different ways.
Towards the end of Term 5, students sit a standardised test which, along with their progress over the year and the teacher’s judgement, helps to determine a National Curriculum Level.
In Year 9, the students are more finely set, allowing each student to access mathematics at, or just beyond, their own ability whilst also preparing them appropriately for GCSE or further study. Rich and extended tasks, project work and functional mathematics are prevalent throughout the year, and teaching is divided into four broad topics; Number, Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics. Each of these topics is assessed across the year group and set changes made as appropriate. Set changes occur only if necessary for a student’s future progress, the decision being made following an assessment of strengths and weaknesses, and their overall progress in lessons.
Towards the end of Term 5, students sit a standardised test which, along with their progress over the year and the teacher’s judgement, helps to determine their National Curriculum Level for the end of Year 9.
Key Stage 4
Students will follow the AQA GCSE course in Mathematics. This is a Linear Course with 3 equally weighted, 90 minute exams, one Non-Calculator and two Calculator papers. This will be at either Higher level (Grades 4 - 9) or Foundation level (Grades 1 – 5). Decisions about tier of entry are made at the beginning of Year 11.
Functional Skill Mathematics
As well as Functional Skill mathematics being a strong component to the core GCSE qualification, there is also a separate qualification of its own which can be accessed in English, Maths and ICT. Again, it is about learners applying knowledge and skills in a real life context with the aim for students to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life, learning and at work.
These qualifications can be taken at different levels and are assessed differently.
Where is it assessed?
2 or 1
1-hour 30 mins Exam
[containing 4 contexts]
Exam venue (e.g. school hall)
3 ,2 or 1
1-hour long controlled assessment task
[containing 3 or 2 contexts]
To put the levels into perspective, a Level 2 qualification is equivalent to a Grade 4 at GCSE. This is an additional qualification which not all students take, but we inform parents/guardians if your son/daughter is entered.
As a Maths department, we run a study group session every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:05pm - 4:05pm, where there are several maths teachers on hand to help students with their work. Students are given the help and support during lessons to help them prepare for their exams. However, attending these study sessions will give them an opportunity to get help on particular areas they are struggling with or a piece of homework they are finding challenging. It is also just an ideal environment to complete subject specific homework or revision.
There are several maths based websites, aimed at helping students revise for their GCSEs:
There is also a website that helps students to prepare for exams in general, allowing them to create revision cards, quizzes, mind maps, timetables etc. Click here to go to GetRevising.
Key Stage 5
Maths in Years 12 and 13
Maths is a very popular A-level at The Henry Box School and is an option for those who have achieved at least a Grade 6 at GCSE. It is one of the most useful subjects to study as it develops logical thinking, problem-solving and data handling skills. It supports the study of the natural sciences and allows for quantitative work to be understood and carried out in the social sciences. As such it is desirable with many combinations of subjects and its qualification is highly respected by employers.
A number of students choose to study the A-level Further Maths course which is run jointly with Wood Green School.
Specification and Options within the Course
All of the A level content will be examined at the end of the two year course.
Students will sit mock exams at the end of Year 12 but will not receive a separate AS level qualification. They will therefore not be able to carry through any UCAS points into Year 13.
Universities are no longer using AS grades when deciding upon offering places and students will be recommended to enrol on 3 A levels when they join us. As a school, we can now offer greater flexibility regarding a mix of A levels plus level 3 BTECs and/or EPQ. A very small number of students may elect to take a 4 A level option.
The students electing to take 4 A levels will include our Further Mathematicians. They can then take two other A levels, as well as Maths and Further Maths. We will enter students for AS Further Mathematics and it can be decided whether to continue with 4 A Levels or change to a 3.5 models (3 A Levels and 1 AS level).
Students can choose to take Further Mathematics, Mathematics and 1 other A level, but this isn’t advised.
We won’t be entering anyone for AS Maths.
The above table outlines how the exam boards propose to assess our students. Given the specifications still haven’t been accredited; this means we can’t say for certain the exact format.
The structure of the Pure Mathematics will be very similar to the current GCSE and so there will be a much stronger emphasis on problem solving, reasoning and modelling than in the current A level. Therefore, we won’t be able to identify specific topics for each paper like with the current modular system. All students will learn Pure Mathematics, Mechanics and Statistics. Further Mathematicians will learn Decision Mathematics.
When studying pure mathematics at AS and A2 level you will be extending your knowledge of such topics as algebra and trigonometry as well as learning some brand new ideas such as calculus. While many of the ideas you will meet in pure mathematics are interesting in their own right, they also serve as an important foundation for other branches of mathematics, especially mechanics and statistics.
Mechanics (M1, M2, M3)
Mechanics deals with the action of forces on objects. It is, therefore, concerned with many everyday situations, e.g. the motion of cars, the flight of a cricket ball through the air, the stresses in bridges, and the motion of the earth around the sun. Such problems have to be simplified or modelled to make them capable of solution using relatively simple mathematics. The study of one or more of the Mechanics units will enable you to use the mathematical techniques which you learn in the Core units to help you to produce solutions to these problems. Many of the ideas you will meet in the course form an almost essential introduction to such important modern fields of study such as cybernetics, robotics, bio-mechanics and sports science, as well as the more traditional areas of engineering and physics.
When you study Statistics you will learn how to analyse and summarise numerical data in order to arrive at conclusions about it. You will extend the range of probability problems that you looked at in GCSE using the new mathematical techniques learnt in the pure mathematics units. Many of the ideas in this part of the course have applications in a wide range of other fields, from assessing what your car insurance is going to cost; to how likely it is that the Earth will be hit by a comet in the next few years. Many of the techniques are used in sciences and social sciences. Even if you are not going on to study or work in these fields, in today’s society we are bombarded with information (or data) and the statistics units will give you useful tools for looking at this information critically and efficiently.
In decision mathematics you will learn how to solve problems involving networks, systems, planning and resource allocation. You will study a range of methods, or algorithms, which enable such problems to be tackled. The ideas have many important applications in such different problems as the design of circuits on microchips to the scheduling of tasks required to build a new supermarket.
Reading around the subject – Mathematics
The two links blow relate to short articles on real world applications.
Two useful websites are shown below. The first is obviously specifically related to Mathematics and gives ample evidence why Mathematics is so important, (and fun). The second is more general, thinking ahead to higher education, and depending what you are interested in, it may well suggest A-level Mathematics as a good idea if you have the aptitude and the will to work hard.
Providing Support at Home
Not everyone loves maths. But everyone uses maths in their everyday life, so it is important for your child's future that they are successful in mathematics. One of the easiest ways to help ensure that this happens is to be supportive of their experiences in maths. Do you spend as long helping your child learn about maths as you do reading? Do you show a positive attitude towards your child's maths homework? You are your child's most important role model and their attitude towards maths is likely to reflect your own.
It is easy to be interested in the books your child is reading, the writing they are doing, and the sports they are playing at school. Try to be equally interested in the maths they are learning.
Here are ten ways that you can help:
- Make sure your children understand mathematical concepts.
Maths is about the big ideas behind the processes we use every day. For example to work with decimals it is necessary to understand place value. Emphasize that understanding these big ideas is as important as doing the tasks set.
- Help them master the basic facts.
Mastery of a basic fact means that children can give an answer in less than three seconds. Considerable drill is required for children to give quick responses. Use flash cards to help your children learn the basic facts such as times tables, formulae, definitions and properties of shapes.
- Teach them to write their numbers neatly.
Twenty-five percent of all errors in solving maths problems can be traced back to sloppy number writing.
- Recognise when your children require extra support.
Maths is one subject in which everything builds upon what has been previously learned. Encourage your children to seek help straight away if they get stuck.
- Show them how to handle their maths homework.
Doing maths homework reinforces the skills your children are learning in class. Help them to begin every homework by studying the textbook or worksheet examples or the notes in their exercise book. Encourage them to redo the examples before beginning the homework to make sure they understand the lesson. Homework should be started well in advance of the deadline so familiarise yourself with your children’s homework timetables.
- Check that your children are properly equipped for their lessons.
A transparent ruler (15cm), pencil, eraser and calculator are needed for every lesson. A good pair of compasses and a protractor are also very useful but notice is usually given when these are required.
- Provide support in reading and explaining word problems.
Mathematicians have an expression: To learn to solve problems, you must solve problems. Teach your children to read a word problem several times. Also, have them draw a picture or diagram to describe it. Listen to them explain the problem back to you. Explore whether similar problems have been encountered before.
- Help your children learn the vocabulary of mathematics.
They will never get a real feeling for maths nor learn more advanced concepts without an understanding of its vocabulary. Check that your children can define new terms.
- Practise mental arithmetic.
One of the major ways to solve problems is by using mental maths. Children should use this method frequently instead of using pencil and paper or a calculator. Estimating length, weight and time is very useful.
- Make mathematics part of your children's daily life.
Mathematics will become more meaningful when your children see how important it is in so many real-life situations. Encourage them to use maths in practical ways. For example, ask them to space new plants a certain distance apart, double a recipe and pay bills in shops.
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