Woodhouse and Imperial College London maths school gets government go-ahead

Dated: 8 July 2020

Ambitious new plans by Imperial College London and Woodhouse College to develop a new maths school have been approved by the government.
The new school – Imperial College London Mathematics School– will be a specialist school for sixth form students doing maths and further maths, alongside a range of other subjects, drawn from broad catchment areas across London, and more widely outside the capital.
The new school will use outreach, other activities and wider admissions criteria to attract more female students, students from BAME groups, and students from disadvantaged or under-represented communities.
It is the first time the world top ten university has entered such a significant partnership with a school – in this case one of the top five sixth form colleges in the country.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 student per year. Importantly, it will increasethe number of maths students going to leading universities, such as Imperial College London, from disadvantaged or under-represented backgrounds.
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.”
Thanks to the university’s connection, 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.
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 (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) graduates, including those linked with the universities of Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Lancaster, Liverpool, Surrey, and King’s College London.
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.
Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, 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 College London, 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.”

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