Free school will be first to specialise in maths


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The Independent Online

Plans for England’s first ever specialist maths state school for sixth-formers – run along lines successfully pioneered in Russia – have been unveiled.

The school for 16- to 18-year-olds – the first of around a dozen to be set up around the country – is being planned by King’s College London to offer talented young mathematicians the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to secure a place at a top university.

It will be run as one of the Education Secretary Michael Gove’s flagship free schools and aims to attract the brightest maths students from schools where teaching standards are weak .

Those who enrol at the 200-pupil school – which is likely to be sited near King’s College’s Waterloo campus – will be expected to study three A-levels – two in maths, plus physics. They will study humanities but won’t take qualifications.

Professor Alison Wolf, who is chairing the working group behind the initiative, told The Independent: “Many schools in the state sector just can’t provide top class maths teaching. They just don’t have the staff. The subjects where the independent sector is most over-represented at university level are maths and science – and they are an area where the state sector is hugely at a disadvantage because they don’t have the teachers.”

The new school is scheduled to open in September 2014. Before then leaders of the project will be scouring local state schools for potential students.

“We could be talking about one student per school – to be honest – who are very talented but currently don’t have a chance to go into a sixth-form and take the test that would get them to Cambridge,” Professor Wolf said.

Mr Gove said: “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.”