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 and United Kingdom Mathematics Trust.
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 periods 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.
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.
The Arcana Mathematics Society meets weekly to work through a series of mathematical problems, and there are also talks given by boys and external speakers, as well as several trips each year – last year our top boys were treated to an audience with James Maynard (the 2022 Fields Medal winner). For younger boys there is also the Intermediate Problem-Solving Society who meet weekly to work through Intermediate Olympiad problems.
The top 100 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. In 2021-22, Tonbridge School achieved the best results in the British Mathematical Olympiad Round 2 of any UK school since the 1980s (two joint-top and another in the top 5). In the same year, two of our boys represented the 6-man UK in the International Mathematics Olympiad in Oslo, and another represented the UK at the Balkans Olympiad. 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.
MA, University of Cambridge
MChem, University of Oxford
PhD, Imperial College London