“If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with Mathematics.”
Galileo Galilei

Mathematics is a popular and successful department with a high profile in the school. The subject has increased further in popularity in recent years, with numbers studying Mathematics gradually increasing and numbers choosing Further Mathematics in the Sixth Form increasing dramatically. Our primary aim is to stimulate, develop and maintain students’ curiosity, interest and enjoyment in mathematics in an environment that encourages creative, independent thinking and enquiry.

In Blocks 3, 4 and 5 students are taught in 5-6 sets according to ability. Progress is monitored carefully by regular testing as well as weekly preps and classwork

Block 3

The Block 3 Mathematics course reinforces basic skills in number, algebra, mensuration and data handling and marks the beginning of a three-year programme. All students are entered for the International GCSE (Edexcel). Prep is set and collected weekly and there is an end-of-year school examination in June.

Blocks 4 and 5

In most sets, Block 4 marks the beginning of students’ exposure to more advanced Higher Tier topics (for example, advanced trigonometry and quadratic equations). Prep is set and collected weekly and there is an end-of-year school examination in June of Block 4. Mock IGCSE examinations occur in January of Block 5.

Generally, one set in each year group is smaller in size and focussed on entry for the Foundation Tier IGCSE (grades 5-1). The middle sets are often rather close in pace and ability and all students in these sets are entered for the higher tier examinations (grades 9-4). The top sets will follow an accelerated course and cover topics from the IGCSE Mathematics as well as the OCR Additional Mathematics syllabus. Students in the top sets have the possibility of taking the OCR Additional Mathematics qualification at the end of Block 5.

The most able students will take part in the UKMT Mathematical challenges, with many of them qualifying for the next rounds (the Intermediate Kangaroo and the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad). They will be exposed to extension material on a regular basis.

Sixth Form

Mathematics is a requirement for several university courses and students are encouraged to consider this when choosing their A Levels. The step up in difficulty from Block 5 can be significant: a grade 7 (equivalent to an A grade) in GCSE or IGCSE Mathematics is an expected minimum for access to the course; aptitude for algebraic topics is an important prerequisite for success.

This A Level course is a linear qualification, meaning that students will sit all of their exams (three two-hour papers) at the end of the two year course. It is no longer possible to retake individual modules. The A Level course covers some pure maths topics (algebra, calculus, trigonometry) as well as some applied maths topics (mechanics and statistics).

Suitably qualified students may choose Further Mathematics as an additional A Level. This is studied as an accelerated programme in 6.1 and 6.2 (twelve periods/week in total for both A Levels rather than eight periods/week for single Mathematics). Additional topics will be covered (e.g. complex numbers, matrix algebra, second order differential equations) and students who are aiming to study Mathematics at top universities will need to choose this A Level. However, it is also relevant for courses in Engineering, Physics, Economics or Statistics. Further Mathematics is a fast, challenging course and students are expected to have a grade 9 (equivalent to an A*) at GCSE or IGCSE. Students will sit three two-hour exams at the end of 6.1 and four 90-minute exams at the end of 6.2.

Students applying to Russel Group universities may have to take additional exams (such as the Maths Admissions Test, the Advanced Extension Award or the Sixth Term Entrance Paper). Guidance and support will be provided throughout 6.1 and 6.2 to help them prepare for these.


There is a popular Sixth Form Mathematics Society, which meets half termly to discuss mathematical issues beyond the scope of the school curriculum. At some times of the year, a Junior Mathematics Society meets weekly in activities time. Able students in all year groups have the chance to enter the Intermediate or Senior UK Mathematics Challenge.

The department has a very strong record of enabling students to proceed with Mathematics as a degree choice at top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. Sixth Formers who are aiming to apply for a Mathematics or related course at university can attend regular Top University Preparation (TopUP) lessons in the Spring Term of 6.1 and Autumn Term of 6.2.

Head of Department: James Welham

Follow the Bedales Maths Twitter account.

Teacher of Maths, Martin Jones, is a regular contributor of articles to the Secondary Magazine section of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (please note, you may need to register to access articles. Registration is free and easy).