at Cockermouth School


The Maths Department aims to provide a fulfilling and stimulating curriculum through which students will develop mathematically. We hope that all students will find the subject challenging, rewarding and exciting.

Whilst we hope to develop confidence in the numerical skills required for every day life, we also hope to give students an insight into many more of the abstract mathematical ideas. There will be opportunities to practise problem solving techniques.

Key Stage 3

The Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to lay the foundation for the GCSE course, which we now start in Year 9. We build on the numeracy from primary schools and extend the students' work into topics which require skills beyond number work. By the end of the first two years, most students will have experienced a wide range of mathematics. Further details of the content are included in each of the individual year pages.

We also try to develop students’ problem solving ability, using a wide range of non-routine problems. Some students are encouraged to take part in the national Mathematics competitions. We have had a good level success in these competitions with our students often being invited to take part in the follow-up rounds and the Olympiad papers. In recent years we have taken a Key Stage 3 team to the national final in London.

Students are taught in mixed ability classes for the first four weeks of Year 7. We then use a combination of their Key Stage 2 scores and our own baseline assessment to decide which course is suitable. A number of students will then move onto what would be considered to be traditional Year 8 work, with the aim of moving onto Year 9 work in Year 8. A number of students will receive extra tuition in basic mathematics, instead of studying one of the foreign languages that we offer.

We continue to assess students with regular tests in lessons and hold end of year exams. These exams are the main focus for deciding which set a student will be in.


During Years 9, 10 and 11 students will follow the GCSE course at one of two levels offered by the exam board. The level of course followed will largely be determined by their achievement during Years 8 and 9. The Higher level awards grades 4 to 9 and the Foundation level 1 to 5. These numbers replace the current GCSE grades of A* to G. The 'grades' 7, 8 and 9 equals the old A or A* grades.

The 'Higher' level will place significant emphasis on the more difficult aspects of topics like algebra and trigonometry. Fifty percent of the marks on the Higher exam will be at least grade 7 standard.

The 'Foundation' level will place greater emphasis on number work, but the students will still be expected to tackle some more difficult topics such as basic algebra, trigonometry and area of shapes to gain the old grade 6 standard - around a grade B in the old system. 

Key Stage 5

Students may take A Level Mathematics if they achieve at least a Grade 6 at GCSE. However those who get a grade 6 will have to sit an additional pre-course test to assess whether their algebraic skills are suitable for A Level.

We offer 'Single' Mathematics and 'Double' Mathematics courses. For single Maths all students have 6 lessons of Core Maths per fortnight plus 3 lessons of Applied Maths. This will contain a mixture of mechanics and statistics. The Double Maths course leads to two A Level qualifications; Mathematics and Further Mathematics. Generally we require students to have a good grade 7 or above and a real interest in studying Maths. Students will have 18 lessons per fortnight and will study Core Maths, Statistics, Mechanics and Decision Maths. At the time of writing, we are waiting for confirmation from the exam board of the inclusion of Decision Maths in Further Maths.

Support is given for Oxbridge students.

Outside the Classroom

Students have been very successful in the UK Maths Trust competitions, both the individual and the team competitions. We are often selected to represent North Cumbria in the national finals in London.