Key Stage 3 (Year 7 and 8)
In key stage three, we work to foster confidence, independence and resilience in all our students. Our carefully differentiated scheme of work enables students to move at an appropriate pace through the four main topic areas of the national curriculum: number, algebra, data handling and geometry. The scheme of work has recently been updated to incorporate the recent changes made to the national curriculum.
Alongside teaching the national curriculum topics, our key stage three curriculum is enriched by a series of projects that put mathematical skills into context. For example, a popular project in year 7 is the “Cupcake Challenge”, which is based on a task from the BBC show “The Apprentice” and helps students develop their understanding of written arithmetic. In year 8, another example of a popular project is the “Codebreaker Challenge” in which students are encouraged to imagine themselves stepping back in time to Bletchley Park in the Second World War, where mathematicians, linguists, musicians and others worked to crack enemy codes and ciphers. This project helps cement and extend understanding of primes, factors, multiples and the value of working systematically.
Throughout key stage 3, students are encouraged to become more independent in their learning, both in and out of the classroom. We have a system of weekly homework sheets that consolidate and revise learning of all prior topics taught that year. We are also keen to encourage the use of the excellent website My Maths, which gives rich opportunities for practicing maths skills at home. If students would like help with their homework or extra practice on any topic there are two very well attended maths clubs on Tuesday and Wednesday lunchtimes at 12:45 in S6.
Key Stage 4 (Year 9, 10 and 11)
The key stage 4 curriculum is designed to follow seamlessly on from work covered at key stage 3 and for our current year 9 students it has been fully updated to take account of the changes to the national curriculum.
Each year students study a wide range of topics from the four strands of the national curriculum: number, algebra, data handling and geometry. Within each unit of work there is an opportunity to recap prior learning before students are exposed to new and more challenging concepts. Students are once again encouraged to be independent in their learning by revising at home. They can do this online using websites such as My Maths, and Method Maths, or by using the recommended revision guide (which can be purchased from pupil services).
Continuing the work done at key stage three, the GCSE course is enriched by a series of projects that help students understand real-life applications of mathematics. A good example of this is the “Money Matters” project, which students undertake near the beginning of year 9. In this project students learn about pay, overtime, tax, rent and utility bills. They are supported to tackle some challenging questions, including working out the tax bill for higher rate tax payers. A complex process! Students are also invited to attend trips in Yrs 9, 10 and 11 designed to inspire a love of mathematics and demonstrate how mathematics is used in so many areas of everyday life from barcodes to rollercoasters, game shows to online shopping.
From year 9 onwards, students are assessed in terms of GCSE grades rather than key stage 3 levels. This enables students to have a clear idea about their current working level and the amount of progress they need to make before they can achieve their GCSE target grade. We are keen to encourage students to have high aspirations for themselves, and many students find that they exceed their “official” target grade. Similar to key stage 3, teachers create weekly homework sheets that revise and recap all prior learning, so that students are constantly revisiting topics and receiving feedback.
All students study the linear GCSE course, which consists of two examinations, calculator and non-calculator, taken at the end of the course. There is currently no coursework for GCSE mathematics. The highest attaining students are given the opportunity to study for a level 3 qualification in mathematics in order to prepare them to study maths at A level.
Key Stage 5 (Year 12 and 13)
As part of Didcot Sixth Form students study Edexcel GCE Mathematics and Further Mathematics. This course enables students to build on strong algebra skills from GCSE and select applied modules to compliment their other subjects. For further information please visit the Didcot Sixth Form college website.