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Bright Young Mathematicians Escape Bar On Studying Further Maths A level

Originally published 20 August 2003

Many bright young mathematicians never have the chance to demonstrate the full extent of their ability as limitations on school resources prevent them from studying for the Further Maths A level. But dozens of young people have escaped this trap thanks to a partnership between University of Warwick mathematicians and a number of Coventry schools.

Further Mathematics is available at both AS and the full A2 A level and provides an opportunity for students who enjoy mathematics and/or want to pursue a maths-related degree to develop their knowledge and understanding of mathematics beyond the standard Mathematics A level. Universities and employers greatly value the Further Mathematics qualifications.

Unfortunately, up to now, Further Mathematics has only been available to the lucky few. In many schools and colleges Further Mathematics is not offered as an option for students to study because class sizes are too small to be financially viable, or staff are not available to teach it. However for the past three years mathematicians at the University of Warwick have running a project under the Gatsby funded 'Enabling Access to Further Mathematics' project gives access sixth form students in half a dozen local partner schools in the project access to study Further Mathematics when it would be otherwise unavailable to them in their schools.

The partnership between the schools the University of Warwick has the following key elements:

  • Regular study days when students from local schools are brought by bus to the University of Warwick Maths Department to receive further maths A level teaching
  • Visits to students in their schools by a Warwick maths researcher
  • Monitored study with distance-learning materials (mainly Web-based), including tests and assignments marked by the Lead Centre Team

In the case of the University of Warwick based scheme many of the participating students are from schools in the Coventry Education Action Zone/Excellence Cluster, the additional support and personal contact provided by school visits are thus particularly welcome.

To give one example one of the schools in the scheme, Woodway Park in Coventry. Its best A-level mathematics score last year was an E. By working in partnership with the University of Warwick mathematicians in this initiative the school is now sending two pupils on to study maths at University Degree level (one to Warwick and one to Loughborough).

One of the Woodway Park pupils is happy to talk about his experiences to media – his name is Ryan Tyrell – he achieved full grade A scores in both Maths and Further mathematics A levels and has a secured a place to study maths at the University of Warwick. Contact the press ofice for his telephone number. Ken Sloan the Chair of Governors at Woodway Park is also available for interview contact the University of Warwick Press Office for details. Also willing to be interviewed is student Mike Samuel from Cardinal Newman School in Coventry; contact the press office for details.