The Maths Department is keen to ensure that all students leave the School with confidence in their mathematical abilities and a facility to think creatively, flexibly and logically.
This is achieved through a wide range of teaching methods and resources, from students working in groups at whiteboards, to explorations into the history of mathematics, to the use of cutting-edge technology, as well as formal and clear teacher-led learning.
We are delighted that in 2018 our department was a finalist in the TES Maths Team of the Year Awards, for its progressive teaching ethos and ability to motivate young women to pursue STEM careers.
Students are taught in their form groups in Year 7 and, normally, in three bands in Year 8 and in sets from Year 9. Students in Years 10 and 11 currently study the Edexcel IGCSE syllabus, sitting the examination in the summer of Year 11. The focus is on developing a deep understanding of the underlying concepts, stretching and challenging the girls so that they become used to thinking forensically and rigorously about mathematics whichever set they are in. This approach has the benefit of supporting girls who are interested in external mathematics competitions, where problem-solving ability rather than a knowledge of rules or techniques is key (see below).
We aim to get pupils into the right-thinking habits from early on in order to lay the best foundations for the many of them who will choose to study Mathematics beyond GCSE. Indeed, about three-quarters of our Sixth Form study A Level or IB Mathematics, with a number of girls opting for Further Mathematics or IB Higher Level; every year several girls go on to study the subject at a top university
Many students take part in the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Mathematical Challenges and are highly successful. The School is also a strong player in the Hans Woyda Mathematics Quiz. The teams for the Junior and Senior Mathematical Team Challenges regularly reach the final. There are a number of maths clubs catering for all ages, which provide opportunities for students to engage in problem-solving and discover aspects of mathematics beyond the syllabus. These clubs are run by experienced staff while the junior club is run by the Sixth Form students in the Maths Society. The well-established Super-mentoring scheme pairs older girls with younger ones to share expertise in solving challenging problems. The Mathematics Society organises lectures led by students and also a termly magazine.
Students have plenty of opportunities to go on maths trips. In the past girls have been able to attend lectures on mathematics in Oxford, at the Institute of Education and at Gresham College, and evening lectures and a day about women in STEM at the Royal Institution. More details of these can be found on the Mathematics Society Blog. Special events, lectures and workshops during the NLCS Maths and Science Week provide further opportunities to get a taste of mathematical concepts and applications beyond the syllabus.
The department even has its own website (www.nlcsmaths.com) which aims to encourage independent learning and mathematical curiosity, as well as giving students information about careers in mathematics and other STEM subjects and opportunities to find work experience.