The plans come in line with the government's pledge to provide 11 new specialist maths schools in EnglandUniversity of Cambridge

A state-funded, specialist mathematics sixth form school is set to open in Cambridge in 2023.

The Cambridge Mathematics School will be open to 16-19 year olds across East Anglia and will be focussed on increasing diversity within maths.

All students at the school will be required to study maths and further maths at A-Level, and they will also have the options to study biology, chemistry, physics or computer science.

The school aims to attract students from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM, including female students, students from minority ethnic backgrounds and students from socially or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

The plans come in line with the government’s pledge to provide 11 new specialist maths schools in England for every region.

The school will be run by the Eastern Learning Alliance (ELA), a multi-academy trust, in partnership with Cambridge University.

Clare Hargraves, the ELA’s Curriculum Lead for the Cambridge Mathematics School, said that the trust was “delighted” to be working with Cambridge University to establish the school.

She said: “The School will offer a new and innovative approach to learning in A-Level maths, and associated subjects, and help young people manage the jump to degree-level mathematics.”

“As well as bringing together a community of the region’s top-performing maths pupils to study an enhanced curriculum in Cambridge, the School will work with students across the whole of East Anglia as part of an extensive outreach programme, sharing tools and knowledge, and nurturing mathematical and scientific potential.”

Professor Colm-Cille Caulfield, Head of the University’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, highlighted the importance of encouraging more students from underrepresented groups to study mathematics.

He said: “As well as its commitment to excellence, the University is committed to Widening Participation, and this partnership has the potential to do enormous good in terms of addressing inequality and reaching the brightest students, regardless of background.”

“One of the areas we want to look at in particular is how we might make the subject more attractive to female students, who are traditionally underrepresented in maths.”

Professor Caulfield also said that these initiatives help highlight the importance of mathematics in everyday life, particularly given the specific challenges of today, including climate change and the pandemic.


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He added: “Data is everywhere – it’s collected by social media channels, it’s used to measure climate change, it’s being presented to us on a daily basis during the pandemic – and it’s more important than ever to be able to understand what all that means.”

The University has undertaken other projects to widen participation. These include the Millenium Mathematics Project, a free outreach programme for members of the public aged 3-19, and its complementary programme NRICH, which provides free online maths resources. The school aims to draw upon the success of these projects.

Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor Graham Virgo said that the University looks forward to collaborating with students and staff at the school:

“Excellence in education is at the heart of the University’s mission, and Cambridge works hard to ensure its world-class learning and research directly contributes to wider society.

“This collaboration builds on our outreach programmes and long-standing relationships with schools and colleges around the country; we look forward to sharing our expertise and enriching the work of students and staff at the Cambridge Mathematics School.”