Imperial College London is to develop a new government-backed maths school targeting underrepresented groups.
Imperial College London Mathematics School, a specialist school for sixth form students doing maths and further maths, alongside a range of other subjects, will focus on attracting more female students, students from BAME groups and disadvantaged and under-represented communities. It will be developed in partnership with Woodhouse College.
It is the first time the world top ten university – home to two Fields Medallists – has partnered with a school in this way. Pupils and teachers will get the chance to work with some of the world’s leading mathematicians and other academics, as well as current Imperial students, as Imperial and Woodhouse work to improve social mobility and diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths).
Using outreach, other activities and wider admissions criteria, students will be drawn from broad catchment areas across London, and more widely outside the capital.
Helping talented young people
Maths schools offer talented young people, including many from disadvantaged backgrounds, the opportunity to make the most of their abilities by tapping into the expertise of our world-class universities, Gavin Williamson MP Education Secretary
The decision by the Department for Education means that Imperial College London Mathematics School can proceed to the next stage of the project, setting up new bodies to govern the school and preparing for public involvement in future phases such as planning.
If subsequent stages go according to plan, the school could potentially be open for 16-19-year-olds studying maths, further maths and other science A-levels in autumn 2023.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Every young person should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Maths schools offer talented young people, including many from disadvantaged backgrounds, the opportunity to make the most of their abilities by tapping into the expertise of our world-class universities, as they strive to become the mathematicians of the future.
“Last year we set out our ambition to open maths schools in every region of the country to help more talented young people, regardless of their gender or background, to study maths at A level and beyond, Imperial College London’s specialist school is another step forward towards achieving this.”
Inspiring future mathematicians
Professor Emma McCoy, Interim Vice Provost (Education and Student Experience) at Imperial, said: “This is wonderful news. It will be great for our staff and students to work alongside A-level pupils and Woodhouse staff to inspire future mathematicians. This is not just about raising school attainment levels and the numbers taking maths degrees, however. This new school will give us real insights into teaching, the curriculum, and the transition to university, across a whole range of subjects which use maths as their foundation.”
The aim is for the school to become a beacon for high attainment in maths and is planned to open for an initial 60 students, rising over time to 100 students per year. Importantly, it will increase the number of maths students going to leading universities, such as Imperial from disadvantaged or under-represented backgrounds.
Potential to transform lives
Professor Maggie Dallman, Vice President (International) and Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships) at Imperial, said: “This is great news for Imperial and for Woodhouse and, most importantly, for talented maths pupils from London and further afield. The opportunity to study advanced maths in a setting like a specialist school has the potential to transform lives and have students benefit from fulfilling careers in science, technology and many other sectors. We should always be aiming to attract the best and brightest students to our universities, irrespective of their background, and we hope that the school will help us discover the talent we know is out there. We are delighted to be partnering with Woodhouse on this school and I am really looking forward to seeing that first year of pupils coming through the school gates.”
Thanks to the university’s connections, students will gain valuable insights from the very latest technology and science developments. They will also gain insights from the workplace and from university alumni and will build sought-after skills for future careers in sectors like technology, computing, and financial industries.
Professor David Van Dyk, Head of Maths at Imperial, said: “Imperial Mathematics is strongly committed to ensuring a more diverse pipeline of talent into mathematics and related careers in science and technology. The new school will be the cornerstone of this aim and will give us new opportunities to mentor, teach and work with bright young future mathematicians from a diverse mix of backgrounds.”
Growing national network
The new school will not just benefit its own students however. ICLMS will also work with other schools and partners across the wider catchment areas, delivering outreach activities and other benefits, such as offering professional development opportunities to a new network of primary and secondary school maths teachers.
It will also be part of a growing national network of Maths Schools aimed at increasing STEM graduates, including those linked with the universities of Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Lancaster, Liverpool, Surrey, and King’s College London.
Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial, said: “The UK skills agenda will only be fulfilled if we all do our part and Imperial is pleased to take this step. Maths education is a critical component of developing the highly skilled workforce, and this school will be central to providing a diverse and widely accessible university education.”
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial, said: “Our mission as a world-leading university is to educate the most able students, and seeking those from the widest range of backgrounds across our diverse population is an important objective. This new partnership with Woodhouse will really help achieve this by focussing on a maths-based curriculum that provides an entry into STEM subjects.”
Unique learning environment
The school is planned to be located on the current Woodhouse College campus in North Finchley, but this is dependent upon obtaining planning permission after local consultation.
John Rubinstein, Principal of Woodhouse, said: “Woodhouse College is delighted to enter into this partnership with Imperial College London, one of the leading universities in the world, to create a unique learning environment for A-level maths students who have a real passion for the subject. There will be benefits for students at Woodhouse too. With our experience of running a successful sixth form school combined with the potential for Imperial to challenge and inspire a new generation of mathematicians from all backgrounds, we are really excited about the future.”