When is the School hoping to open?
Whilst it is still early days in the planning process, we hope that Durham Mathematics School will open its doors in the near future. Please see Latest News for the most up-to-date developments.
What will the admissions criteria be?
The primary focus of our admissions will be to recruit students who demonstrate ability and aptitude in mathematics, but who do not currently have the opportunity to pursue advanced mathematics. The school is intended to benefit students who otherwise might not reach their full potential.
We are still refining our admissions criteria. To do this, we will draw upon best practice from Exeter Mathematics School and King’s College London Mathematics School. Alongside a competitive application process, a number of general entry requirements will normally be expected from applicants to the School, these include:
- Grade 7, 8 or 9 in GCSE Mathematics
- Grade 7,8, or 9 in GCSE Physics or 88, 99 in GCSE Dual Science
- Grade 5 or above in GCSE English Literature or English Language
Applicants will also be asked to complete a series of additional admissions activities which will be designed to select those with the greatest aptitude and potential to excel at Durham Mathematics School.
Contextual information, including current access to quality Mathematics education and the disadvantage faced by the student throughout their schooling, will play a key role in our admissions decisions.
What will the catchment for the school be?
Durham Mathematics School, the only of its kind in the North East and Cumbria, will attract students from across the region, increasing attainment for young people in County Durham, Cleveland, Tyne & Wear, Northumberland, the North Yorkshire Coast, and Cumbria. In particular, we will focus recruitment in areas where existing access to post-16 education is unavailable or limited. By providing equal opportunities to all young people in the region, the School will drive forward widening participation and social mobility agendas.
How many students will be admitted?
The School will be small, admitting no more than 75 students per year, with a total enrolment of 150. This will help us to deliver highly specialised teaching, alongside a wealth of extra-curricular activities and pastoral care.
What subjects will be available?
Our students will be offered up to four A Level subjects across both Year 12 and 13. Mathematics and Further Mathematics will be the core subjects for all students. There will an option to take an A Level in Physics and/or Computer Science. Students will be able to choose a fourth subject from a diverse range of subjects offered at Durham Sixth Form Centre, spanning the arts, humanities, social sciences and other sciences.
What provision will be made for students who live too far from Durham to commute on a daily basis?
Equality of access for all students in the catchment area served by the school is vitally important to us. As a result, we will offer the option of weekday residential boarding for some students. The option to board will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on a variety of eligibility requirements, including access to public transport and the travel time between the student’s home and the School.
Further details about boarding arrangements will follow, including details of financial support and bursaries to assist students with limited means.
Will there be any extra-curricular activities available?
Yes. The school will benefit from its close ties to Durham University and Durham Sixth Form Centre in this respect, and a wide array of extra-curricular activities will be available for boarders and day students, as well as access to world-class recreational and sports facilities.
Are there any other schools like this in the UK?
Yes. Whilst this is the first school of its kind in the North East, it follows the highly successful Exeter Mathematics School and Kings College London Mathematics School – both ranked outstanding by Ofsted.
Further universities around the country will be opening mathematics schools, having received approval from the Department of Education. These include Cambridge, Liverpool and Surrey. Each will look to serve students within their own geographical region.
What considerations are being made around student support and wellbeing?
We recognise that the style of teaching and the general environment will bring with it new and exciting challenges for its students, and that support structures should be present to provide both pastoral and academic support and guidance. We are committed to ensuring that all students have fair access to an environment which enables them to flourish.
All students at the School will receive a dedicated personal tutor who will be a point of contact for any pastoral needs and ongoing academic support.
The School will have a designated Safeguarding Officer and access to counsellors, as well as a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) to provide support for any students with special educational needs or disabilities.
Further policies on student support and wellbeing will be developed as an integral part of the School’s planning.
What about students who need further stretch?
Durham Mathematics School will provide a variety of opportunities for all students, enabling them to reach their full potential. Additional ‘stretch’ activities will be available for students depending on their aptitude for learning, level of attainment, and progression plans post-18. Currently we are planning to offer the following:
- Durham Mathematics Certificate
The Durham Mathematics Certificate will be a project-based challenge developed by academics and students at Durham University. The Certificate will complement the A level syllabus by creating space for mathematical discussion, the exploration of mathematical concepts and methods, and the development of critical and lateral thinking. It will offer our students a challenging opportunity to apply their learning to specific mathematical problems.
- Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
The EPQ allows each student to embark on a largely self-directed and self-motivated project. Students must choose a topic, research and develop their idea and decide on their finished product. The projects could be directly related to a student’s main study programme, but should look beyond this and show creativity. The finished products could be anything from a fashion show to a computer game.
- Certificate in Financial Studies (Level 3)
This Level 3 course enables students not only to learn how to manage their money effectively, but also to learn about financial products such as credit cards, loans, mortgages and pensions, helping them to prepare for financial independence and to make informed financial decisions throughout their lives.
- Other University-led ‘stretch’ activities
Why is this needed in the North East?
The North East’s vibrant tech sector is forecast to grow to £2.5bn by 2020 and will continue to offer bright futures for many young people in the region who have the right knowledge and skills.
However, opportunities to study Mathematics at a higher level are currently unevenly distributed across the region, and performance at KS4 is lagging behind national performance levels, particularly for disadvantaged students.
Our hope is that the Durham Mathematics School will improve opportunities for all, ensuring all young people have the option to pursue a career in STEM.