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'Brit School' for maths maestros opens its doors to pupils from all corners of London

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 August 2013

Dan Abramson, head designate of the King's College London Mathematics School. Picture: King's College London

Dan Abramson, head designate of the King's College London Mathematics School. Picture: King's College London

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Talented number-crunchers and those with a passion for Pythagoras are being encouraged to sign up for a dedicated new mathematics school that will lead the way in London.

"“The only comparison we really have is the Brit School, the specialists in music, drama and dance. It’s a bit like that, except our performance is mathematics.”"

Dan Abramson, head designate of King’s College London Mathematics School

The new school, due to open in September 2014, aims to attract the best mathematical brains in the capital no matter what their background, and is being sponsored by the prestigious King’s College London.

It will be led by Dan Abramson, currently head of mathematics at Highgate School, who also runs a maths outreach programme to other Haringey schools to teach and stretch the most talented pupils.

A recruitment drive is starting now to pique the interest of pupils starting Year 11 next month, so they can look to start their A-levels at the new school the following September.

Mr Abramson, head designate of the school, said: “We are looking for able, interested mathematicians, who are good at mathematics, like to study mathematics and want to continue doing it at a unqiue and special place that is dedicated to people like them.

Education secretary Michael Gove has praised the King's College London Mathematics School. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireEducation secretary Michael Gove has praised the King's College London Mathematics School. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

“There will no fees. The first year will come in next September, but the applicants will come to us in the next few months.

“Pupils will learn primarily mathematics, and [how] to apply mathematics in physics, and they’ll also learn a wider array of skills that include programming and computer science, the understanding of some ideas in humanities - in particular a philosophical approach to learning in general, that centres on how they go about learning, and what knowledge is.”

The school will have “a special relationship” with King’s College London, one of the top 30 universities in the world, that will see its maths and physics departments closely linked to the school, said Mr Abramson.

“We will be advised by the professors and both the undergraduate and graduate population will be helping our pupils as well, as mentors.

“The only comparison we really have is the Brit School, the specialists in music, drama and dance. It’s a bit like that, except our performance is mathematics.”

The institution, a flagship for education secretary Michael Gove’s plans for specialist schools, is only concerned with talent and enthusiasm, not ability to pay.

It will be free to every student, be based in a building near King’s College London’s Waterloo campus and will offer travel bursaries for those who need them. But only the best need apply.

“There will be only 60 pupils in our first cohort; you are talking about a very select group, and it will be selective,” said Mr Abramson. “There will be a maths aptitude test and an interview.

“Our admissions policy requires you to get an A or A* in maths and also in physics or double science. That said, when pupils apply to us they will not have had those results, apart from those who have taken them early.

“They need to be interested in the subject and feel that they are good at it, and then we will make the assessment ourselves to determine whether we think they are capable of getting those grades.

“What we want is the best two or three mathematicians in Year 11 in any school to come to us.”

He continued: “The added value you would get from this school is enormous. One, it is going to have first-rate teaching. I come from a first-rate mathematics background and I will be bringing in expertise from Highgate School.

“Two, it is the environment and being around others, your peers who are just as passionate about mathematics and can challenge and push you.

“I am a Cambridge mathematician and learning maths there drives you to accelerate your learning. It is the hive of mathematical thought that will be driving them, as well as what I can do.

“One of the reaons for this project is getting more and better pupils into mathematics subjects, into the best universities here and abroad, and we are a vehicle for making that happen. If you have high aspirations, we are a mechanism through which you can realise those aspirations.”

King’s College Lonodon Mathematics School will be the first univeristy-sponsored, sixth form-only maths school in London.

After the plans were first announced last December, education secretary Michael Gove said: “If we are to find a future Fields Medallist in our schools, we have to raise standards in maths teaching and create an environment that allows the most gifted to flourish.

“This is an excellent example of a world-class higher education institution playing an active role in preparing gifted young people for the rigours of university study. I am sure the King’s College London free school will be a resounding success and an inspiration to others.”

+ The school is holding open days for prospective students on Friday, September 27, Thursday, October 16, and Tuesday, November 12. They take place at New Hunt’s House off Newcomen Steet, Borough. For more information see www.kcl.ac.uk/mathsschool.

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