The Mathematics department aims to show something of the structural coherence and intrinsic beauty of Mathematics and to point towards its applications to a diverse range of phenomena in the scientific and human worlds. Our teaching style is a blend of the best traditional and modern practices; pupils are encouraged to use the appropriate tools for each problem - a computer, a calculator or the back of an envelope! Computing software regularly used includes spreadsheets, graph plotters and dynamic geometry packages.
Members of the Department are involved nationally both in syllabus development at all levels and in the work of the Mathematical Association.
The support given by members of the department extends far beyond standard lesson time. Help and advice sessions take place every Monday and Friday during Pursuits period which are accompanied by revision surgeries at different times of the year as GCSE and A level exams approach. There is also extensive support each year for the many Tonbridge mathematicians who apply to read Maths at Oxford and Cambridge. Preparation for this starts in the January of the Lower Sixth year and becomes more focussed in the Upper Sixth.
For those applying for Oxford, there is an entrance test taken in November of the Upper Sixth, followed by an interview in December. The department helps with preparation for the Oxford Maths Entrance Test. Those applying to Cambridge will be interviewed in December and, if successful, given an offer which will include taking some of the Cambridge STEP examinations in Mathematics. The department has a programme of preparation for these candidates and other boys who relish the intellectual challenge that the STEP papers provide.
Tonbridge mathematicians are encouraged to extend themselves in many other ways. . A number of boys write an extended project at the end of their lower sixth and beginning of the upper sixth. Others prepare posters or presentations on a topic beyond the syllabus which interests them. The department is able to offer help with resources and ideas.
The top 30 or so mathematicians in each year enter the National Mathematics Contests. Those who do well qualify for the follow-up Olympiad competitions, targeted at the top 500 pupils in each year across the country. Tonbridge usually has about half a dozen in each year qualifying for this prestigious competition and a few who then qualify for the further, even more selective rounds. Tonbridge also enters a team for the Team Maths Challenges, Senior and Intermediate each year.
A number of boys who have studied Maths for A level go on to study Maths or a Maths related subject at university, but many others use their Maths as a support for a scientific or a social science subject at university. Maths is rightly recognised by top universities as a very challenging A level, as indeed it is by many employers in the increasing range of careers that require numeracy and the ability to think through a logical argument.
PhD, Imperial College London