The Aspiring Mathematicians Programme (AMP)
As a maths school we think it’s really important that students get the chance to take part in scientific and mathematical research, mathematics competitions and both collaborative and individual mathematics projects. We know that each of our students will have a different passion within science, technology, engineering or maths, and so we think it is very important they have the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of activities, from advanced problem-solving to talks from visiting lecturers and the chance to pursue their interests independently. The AMP journey is therefore different for each of our students, and is led by them.
The AMP is a bespoke programme of activities, designed by subject specialists with particular expertise in the teaching of gifted and talented learners, to give students greater depth in their mathematical ability, accelerated academic maturity and careers experiences which prepare them for work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics research and industry. Learning will be tailored to the individual needs, interests and aspirations of our students, so no two journeys through the AMP will be alike.
The aims of the AMP are to:
Develop a range of academic and vocational skills beyond those required at A-level
Prepare students for the UCAS application process and university interviews
Push our students’ mathematical thinking to the point where challenging assessments like STEP and MAT start to feel like interesting puzzles rather than impossible challenges
Develop students’ experience of solving real life problems beyond examination questions
Give students opportunities to be inspired by and work alongside academics, current undergraduates and researchers
Facilitate students in the completion of a significant research task, culminating in an evening to showcase their outcomes
Enhance students’ ability to work in group related tasks and projects
Broaden students’ horizons in terms of their future career opportunities/aspirations by giving them genuinely valuable work experience and careers guidance
Prepare students to take part in mathematics and science competitions like the UKMT Maths Challenges, the British Maths Olympiad and the British Physics Olympiad.
To do so, the AMP involves the following activities:
Advanced problem-solving in mathematics, delivered to all students in timetabled lessons at the beginning of Year 12. Lessons are used each week of the first term to immerse students in challenging questions that require them to use the knowledge they are learning throughout their curriculum in new and imaginative ways. This culminates in a problem-soling day before Christmas, where students are grouped and given the whole morning to work together on a variety of problems, asked to make a brief presentation on some of the questions to deliver to the rest of the year group in the afternoon. Some, in particular those intending to apply to universities requiring additional admissions tests such as the Sixth Term Exam Paper (STEP) or the Maths Admissions Test (MAT) will continue with this throughout their studies, attending optional sessions held weekly and exploring how most every topic in their A Level Maths and Further Maths curriculum can be extended and utilised in a myriad of ways, bounded only by their imagination.
Physics group projects also begin in the autumn term. Students are asked to undertake a first project of their choice in collaboration with other learners in their year group. The focus is on designing and conducting an experiment, but with the expectation that each group will present the relevant mathematical theory and use computational methods in some way that is relevant to the focus of their investigation. Students are given several days off timetable to plan and organise their projects, and ultimately to conduct their experiments and report on them by creating a poster to share their research in a conference during spring term.
Spring term is also when students have a first opportunity to explore projects individually, choosing a topic that they are passionate about and exploring it independently in greater detail. Everybody will attend research methods sessions designed to help them seek out and use current academic literature to inform their own studies, and using a computer package called LaTeX to typeset their mathematical writing to a high academic standard. Initially, students will take time to explore their ideas and refine them with a member of staff, before agreeing actions to be taken throughout the summer so that projects can be presented in the autumn term of Year 13. Students will have some choice over how long their projects are and how to present their work, so while some might choose to finish in Year 13 with a presentation, others might continue well into the year and write their research up into a report, or take a viva voce style exam with a member of staff if they want to discuss their findings in detail. The idea is to give them an overview of the processes involved in cutting edge research in a flexible way that allows them to choose how to pursue their individual goals.