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We encountered a group of students playing cards… until we realised that what they were actually doing was maths. We didn’t encounter a single serried rank in any of the classrooms and the observable status gap between teachers and students is close to zero. But make no mistake, there’s masses of maths going on - in the head’s words, ‘There are no dutiful learners here’. Pastoral care is shared among teachers and a specialist team who spoke to us with full-strength seriousness and much fervour about their role and its importance, because ‘these students spend a long time outside their comfort zone’...

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What the school says...

Exeter Mathematics School is a state-funded 6th form school that is jointly sponsored by the University of Exeter and Exeter College. It has been created to meet the needs of able Mathematics students throughout the South West. Opened in September 2014, members of staff from both institutions work closely with the EMS staff to sustain an environment and curriculum conducive to the development of brilliant mathematicians and scientists.

Our Ethos

Exeter Mathematics School is a mathematically stimulating, student-centred, collaborative working community. The schools focus, first and foremost, is to provide an education that enables gifted young mathematicians to flourish and succeed.

We encourage enquiry, the pursuit of open-ended problems and engender the confidence to do these things without the scaffolding common in current approaches to pre-university mathematics teaching and assessment. Mathematical ideas are part of everyday conversation.

We recognise students as individuals, each with their own specific needs and provide a safe, caring and supportive environment in which they can work. We seek to develop the whole person in order that the mathematician can flourish.

We are committed to working with Exeter College, the University of Exeter, local employers and other schools to ensure our provision is rich and relevant. Staff and students work together, each playing a vital role in informing the learning environment. The sharing of resources and ideas is standard practice; regular reflection and review ensure we are always striving to improve.

Serving the South West

To enable students to attend from a broad catchment area we offer midweek boarding in supervised accommodation.
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What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2014, Kerry Burnham, founding headteacher. West Country through and through, educated at Plymstock School and Exeter university, BA in maths and education. Accredited advanced skills teacher. Since 1998 maths teacher and gifted & talented coordinator at Torquay Boys’ Grammar. Not imbued in the least with a sense of manifest destiny and had never considered going for a headship until the Exeter Mathematics School (EMS) job came up. It’s the maths that got her blowing the moths off her CV; she just can’t get enough of maths. Like any maths teacher anywhere she is perfectly certain that maths is the most important subject of them all.

A big step up, starting a new school from scratch. She’s at ease with the responsibilities and conspicuously good at people. Warm, cordial, intuitive, fun...

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Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

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