Mathematics

Monmouth School for Girls mathsFascinating in its own right, mathematics is a vital skill which helps not just with other subjects in the curriculum, but also with many aspects of adult life. Our obvious aim is to enable girls to attain their maximum potential in exams. But we also want to develop the pupils’ oral, written and practical skills to help boost their confidence.  We encourage students to apply their mathematical skills in a wide variety of situations – practical or theoretical, related to everyday life or other subjects. With us, girls should develop the invaluable ability to select suitable mathematical techniques to solve problems.

Years 7-9

Girls enter the main school with different levels of mathematical skills and different amounts of mathematical knowledge. The aim in Year 7 is to ensure that all students have a firm grounding in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, measures, statistics and probability. In Year 8 we continue to build on these areas, and in Year 9 we introduce trigonometry. The girls are taught in sets of different sizes depending on their ability and the speed at which they work. All sets in Years 7 to 9 follow the same programme of work, but extension work is provided for the pupils in higher sets. The year groups are reset at the end of years 7, 8 and 9.

IGCSE

Girls sit the Edexcel IGCSE in Mathematics (specification 4MA1) at the end of Year 11.  This course has existed relatively unchanged for over fifteen years and provides an excellent preparation for further study in the subject as well as an accessible course for those students who find the subject challenging.  It covers the four main areas of number, algebra, geometry and statistics, but with more of a skew towards algebra compared to other GCSE courses.

All girls work towards the higher tier, which is targeted at grades 9-4 (but with a grade 3 the lowest possible).  Each year a number of girls will also sit the WJEC Additional Mathematics exam, which extends beyond the standard IGCSE course.  For the past two years all girls entered for Additional Mathematics have achieved a distinction.

A Level

Year 12 students have begun work on the new A Level specification from September 2017.  Jointly with Monmouth School for Boys we have chosen to follow the Edexcel specifications for both Mathematics (9MA0) and Further Mathematics (9FM0).  This is allowing a smooth transition from the IGCSE which is also from Edexcel.  The current Year 13 students are completing courses following the legacy AQA specifications.

Co-Curricular

This year’s Eisteddfod competition for maths linked together two very powerful ideas in the subject: the geometry of solid shapes and prime numbers.  Both of these have existed in human culture for well over two thousand years, but still have much relevance to today’s society.  Very large prime numbers are used for internet encryption and some of the ideas that protect us online have links to the Riemann Hypothesis, one of the most famous as yet unproved ideas in maths.

The competition involved work on Euler’s Theorem in relation to the five Platonic solids (Tetrahedron, Cube, Octahedron, Dodecahedron and Icosahedron), as well as constructing the five solids using origami techniques.  Mather Jackson produced the best set of models, but the overall winner was the team from Imbert Terry, who scored well in all the tasks, particularly in their justification for the existence of only five Platonic solids.

The junior and senior maths clubs have continued this year.  Early in the year the juniors had a session led by Year 12 girls on origami, ahead of the launch of the after-school origami club.  They have also worked on preparing for the various UKMT maths challenge competitions through the year.

In the senior team challenge, the HMSG team was again very close to winning their regional round in Cardiff.  At the halfway point, they were ahead of the eventual winners, Atlantic College, but one weaker section under the pressure of the relay round resulted in a fourth place at the end. 

Individual challenges have given the opportunity to over 200 girls to compete in the national competitions, with over 100 gaining bronze, silver or gold certificates.  This year, amongst the eight qualifiers for follow-on rounds were Adele and Farren in Year 11, who both qualified for the Maclaurin Olympiad paper.  Both gained certificates of merit for their answers in this demanding two-hour paper.