In the world of education, Mathematics is everything – it is a science, it is a language and it is art! Mathematics is the means of looking at the patterns that make up our world and the intricate, beautiful ways in which they are constructed and realised. Numeracy is the means of making that knowledge useful.
At Beeston, Mathematics develops pupils’ abilities to calculate; to reason logically, algebraically, and geometrically; to solve problems and to handle data. Mathematics is important for pupils in many other areas of study, particularly Science, ICT and Craft. It is also important in everyday living, in many forms of employment, and in corporate and government decision-making.
As a subject in its own right, Mathematics presents frequent opportunities for creativity, and can stimulate moments of pleasure and wonder when a problem is solved for the first time, a more elegant solution to a problem is discovered, or when hidden connections are suddenly revealed. It enables pupils to build a secure framework of mathematical reasoning, which they can use and apply with confidence. The subject transcends cultural boundaries and its importance is universally recognised. Mathematics helps us to understand and change the World.
The Dept holds regular ‘Maths for Scholars’ sessions for the more able Year 7s and 8s, where the pupils are able to investigate timeless problems such as the ‘Towers’ of Hanoi’, ‘Balancing Birds’, Fibonacci and Pascal’s triangle. There are weekly Maths clinics that support the upper school pupils with any tricky applied topics, and the opportunities to ‘be mathematical’ don’t stop there! The Dept runs a popular Mini-Bridge activity, and Chess Club has produced some excellent players who have been ranked at the top of the county, as well as qualifying for the National ‘GigaFinals’.
Recent events that we have hosted include; problem-solving days run by visiting Oundle School staff; a STEM ‘Mission to Mars’ day; the hugely popular World Maths Day, where nearly 100 certificates were achieved on that day alone. We also take teams of eager Year 5 and 6 mathematicians to school challenge days, and all our pupils have the opportunity to enter the UK-wide Primary Maths Challenge. If that isn’t enough, there are weekly prizes and certificates for ‘Puzzle Corner’ and the impressive online platform that is Mathletics. Mathletics is a 24/7 global platform, and individual and class leaderboards highlight the children’s achievements and showcase their efforts both at school and at home.
The key priority for the younger pupils is that they enjoy the subject and are able to see the progress that they are making. For Year 3 and 4 we use the popular and child friendly Rising Stars program. As we have smaller class sizes, we can thoroughly differentiate the work within every lesson to suit individuals’ abilities. We tend to use a spiral curriculum meaning that the core topics can be regularly revisited, revised and then furthered. Learning Support and daily intervention initiatives are also available for those having any difficulties.
From Year 5 the syllabus accelerates, covering topics extending beyond the National Curriculum objectives. By the end of Year 6 the children are working a year ahead. Class work is complemented by the Mathletics and MyMaths online platforms; these offer fun and challenging tasks to be individually set for every pupil. Immediate feedback and interactive online lessons support any tricky topics.
From Year 7 pupils are individually prepared for their senior school entrance exams or scholarships. The more able pupils will be accessing regular scholarship papers by now, and we aim to have the majority of pupils sitting Level 3 or scholarship standard papers in year 8. Pupils also get the chance to enter the UKMT Junior Challenge, where several win Gold awards and qualify in the top 2% in the country.
HOW YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS IS ASSESSED
Individual targets are formally set at least twice a term and all online work is tracked, with weaknesses ‘flagged’ to the teacher. Learning Support staff attend every Dept meeting in order to action any pupil concerns immediately.
Galore Park texts offer regular Summary tests and the pupils sit annual UK-standardised ‘Performance in Maths’ and NVR tests. Year group averages will regularly achieve 120 by the beginning of Year 8.
MEET THE TEACHER
Simon Means – Head of Mathematics
From a West Norfolk farming family, I was educated at Oundle School, graduated from Bristol University, and then spent 18 years in the RAF flying Chinooks and other aircraft. My last posting was to command Cambridge University Air Squadron, and this offered me plenty of teaching and instructional roles, both inside and away from the classroom. In 2011 I was enthused to apply for a PGCE and embrace teaching as a second career, feeling that I had a unique perspective to offer in a school environment. As well as running the Dept, I am a Housemaster and also in charge of School Sailing at the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club.
What do you most enjoy about the subjects you teach?
I have always enjoyed the beauty and concise nature of mathematics. After working through a complex problem, you invariably know when you have achieved the correct answer. It is the theoretical building blocks of the world around us, is a truly ‘useful’ subject, and has so many important applications to our own lives. From Astronaut to Entrepreneur to Fashion Designer it is a conduit for many careers and young ambitions.
I am a keen sportsman and enjoy a challenge! Sailing and golf are my current passions, although time at home with my wife Heidi and three boys is also very precious! I recently partook in the Norfolk Superheroes, and try to maintain my fitness through hockey and squash. When work and family allow I also enjoy reading, films, and travelling.
For the past 18 months we have been renovating our house in Wells-next-the-Sea. I live there with my wife, Janice, and my two children, Abbie (16) and Josh (15). We are all starting new adventures this term, Janice is teaching at Woodfields School in Sheringham and both Abbie and Josh have just started at Gresham’s.
I am a very keen cyclist and try to bike 5200 miles per year (although I usually end up a few miles short)! I race competitively at the Lotus test track series. My target each race is to finish with the peloton and remain upright rather than competing for any prizes. My greatest achievements are biking 100 miles with Emma Pooley (2015), biking 100 miles in 4 hours 39 mins (2012) and being the first rider home in the Norwich 100 (2014). I spent many years playing cricket but since turning 40 my body prefers me not to play – so does Janice!
I completed my PGCE without any intention of teaching, merely something to do whilst Janice, my then fiancée finished her degree. However having started a job in accountancy and hating it, I was pleased to find alternative employment at Pakefield Middle School. That was 19 years ago and I have been teaching ever since! I moved to Fakenham High School, teaching Maths & PE and ended up as the School Sports Co-ordinator for 5 years. Before joining Beeston in 2016, I was teaching at Gresham’s Senior School.