Plans for two new specialist maths schools have been approved by the government, it was announced today.
The schools, which will offer specialist provision for 16- to 19-year-olds who show particular aptitude in maths, will be backed by the universities of Surrey and Lancaster respectively.
The aim is for both schools to act as regional centres of excellence for maths teaching at A level. In particular, they aim to recruit pupils from groups underestimated in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.
The schools will also support broader efforts to widen participation in higher education. One of their objectives will be to increase the numbers of talented pupils applying to study Stem degrees at university, and then progressing on to careers in areas that will support the national economy.
The government has called on Britain’s top universities to take a leading role in establishing new maths schools, in order to help meet the demand for maths skills in the workplace.
The Lancaster University school will be opened in partnership with Cardinal Newman College, Preston. And the University of Surrey will run its school together with Guildford Education Partnership (GEP Academies), the multi-academy trust behind seven local schools.
Professor Max Lu, vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey, said: “We are thrilled with this opportunity to generate excitement and enthusiasm among the next generation of outstanding Stem students across Surrey.
“We can look forward to equipping talented students with the knowledge and skills to build influential and rewarding Stem careers.”
And Professor Sharon Huttly, pro-vice-chancellor for education at Lancaster University, said: “The maths school will provide a significant boost to the teaching of maths in the North West.
“This will help to deliver the skills needed for the UK to remain competitive in a global economy.”
Schools minister Lord Agnew said that he was confident that the new schools would boost the prospects of talented mathematicians in these two regions.
“Maths schools support talented young people to reach their potential by tapping into the expertise of top universities,” he said. “And Ofsted has found that they excel in recruiting students from disadvantaged backgrounds to fulfil their potential.”
There are currently only two maths schools in operation: one at King’s College London, and the other at the University of Exeter. Two more – one in Liverpool and the other in Cambridge – are also planned.
In 2016, the first two specialist maths free schools gained some of the best A-level results in the country, rivalling top-performing independent schools.
King’s College London Mathematics School had 100 per cent of its pupils achieving either an A* or A in maths, with all 65 now off to Oxbridge or other Russell Group universities.
More than 80 per cent of students at Exeter Mathematics School gained A*, A or B across all subjects, and 45 per cent achieved an A* result in maths.