We understand that many students arriving at St Matthias Academy feel that maths is, ‘not for them’ but we believe that maths is for everyone. On arrival at St Matthias Academy all pupils are baseline assessed in mathematics. This enables their future learning to be tailored to their needs, encouraging students to engage with, explore, enjoy and succeed in maths. Topics that pupils have missed covering, or that they find difficult, will be revisited. This supports a focus on number skills and a general reinforcement of maths skills and techniques that are designed to allow pupils to build the foundation upon which to improve their learning.
Every new body of discovery is mathematical in form, because there is no other guidance we can have. - Charles Darwin
Maths is delivered on topic by topic basis that addresses the four main stands of maths, number, algebra, geometry and measure and statistics and data. These stands also incorporate the renewed focus on ratio and change and probability, which students will focus on in more depth in the KS4 curriculum. Discussion with maths departments of mainstream schools in Bristol has been key to helping choose which topics may need to be prioritised for shorter stay pupils. Numeracy is the common strand that binds these topics. In addition to the usual timetabled maths lessons, St Matthias also provides numeracy intervention and all pupils receive a weekly numeracy session which for many pupils focuses on improving working knowledge of times tables. We believe that teaching maths relies on a consistent, patient and confidence building approach, which encourages often very disaffected learners to enjoy the subject and learn that everyone is in some capacity a problem solver!
Re engagement is at the heart of what we do at St Matthias and this is our main goal in maths. We have students of all differing abilities and different levels of enjoyment in the subject and we try to cater for such differences. Our small class sizes allow us to make in lesson formative assessments, pick up on gaps in knowledge and address misconceptions quickly. We often see rapid progress because students that have lost their confidence are willing to engage in smaller classes and making mistakes does not feel such a hugely embarrassing problem. We hope that any student leaving us, never again utters those dreadful words “ I can’t do maths” because we believe, maths is for everyone.
The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple. - S. Gudder
At GCSE Level we follow the Edexcel GCSE Mathematics, which has both a Foundation tier (grades 1 – 5) and a Higher tier (grades 4 – 9). In recent years the majority of pupils have been entered into the foundation level either because it best matches their ability, or their short stay at St Matthias, combined with previous lost learning time, has made it impossible to cover the large amount of content required for the higher tier – however this will always remain a decision made on a case by case basis taking into consideration pupil, teacher and parental input.
Content covered is listed below. However the temporary nature of pupil placements at the provision mean that decisions have to be made regarding which content is prioritised as it is unlikely that there will be enough learning time to cover every topic in as much detail as would be preferred.
Edexcel foundation tier does not give these 6 content areas equal weighting.This is reflected in the prioritising of content delivery at St Matthias and is in line with both the teaching by and comments received from local mainstream schools. St Matthias’ priority is to Number topics primarily, followed by Ratio and proportion, and then Algebra and Geometry topics. This same priority is also applied to some extent to KS3 pupils to help them to prepare for future GCSE delivery - although with many KS3 pupils, numeracy strands within these topics may be the main focus.