Imperial launches sixth form maths school aimed at under-represented students

David Lee (left) and Sugra Alibhai, Principal of Woodhouse College (right)
David Lee (left) and Sugra Alibhai, Principal of Woodhouse College (right)

Imperial College London is establishing an innovative new sixth form school in Barnet, North London, nurturing the next generation of students in STEM

The new school - Imperial College London Mathematics School - is a specialist institution with a wide catchment area of North London and its surrounds.

Teaching began on 1 September for an initial cohort of 40 Year 12 students, with the School reaching a peak of 100 Year 12 and 100 Year 13 students in the coming years.

Imperial has also worked to deliver the School in close partnership with Woodhouse College - a popular and oversubscribed sixth form college teaching 26 different A level subjects to around 1500 students aged 16 -18 years. The government recognises Woodhouse College as one of a small number of colleges with Ofsted Outstanding status. Its A*-B pass rates consistently place it in the top five sixth form colleges nationally.

Pathways to success

Professor Ian Walmsley , Provost of Imperial College London, said: "We are proud and excited to be encouraging and supporting a younger group of students to embark on their journey toward fulfilling careers in science. The School is focused on increasing diversity in STEM, making a significant contribution toward reversing under-representation of specific groups in the workplace and academia.

"This initiative also seeks to raise numeracy skills among school students in collaboration with partner organisations in North London, providing benefits to the local community that will last for years to come.

"I am really looking forward to seeing our first cohort of students discovering where a life in STEM can take them."

All students will study Maths and Further Maths A level, and at least one of Physics and Chemistry A Level, with specialist teachers. Alongside this, the School will offer a programme of mathematical enrichment that will allow students to explore advanced ideas, connect with people working in mathematics, and take part in a challenging and rigorous university preparation course.

Students will share the same site as Woodhouse College, studying in high quality temporary accommodation until the anticipated completion of a specialist building in the second academic year.

Due to this shared arrangement, students will also have the option of studying a fourth A Level of their choice from a wide variety of additional options at Woodhouse College. If an applicant is a mathematician, but they love art, then the School’s unique partnership can deliver that experience.

An enriching learning environment

Students will be immersed in an environment of mathematics from day one of teaching. We are looking for young people with dedication and commitment, and we expect hard work." David Lee Headteacher, Imperial College London Mathematics School

David Lee , Headteacher of Imperial College London Mathematics School said: "It is a privilege to be leading this fantastic new institution. Young people constantly inspire and surprise me with their enthusiasm, creativity and resilience.

"Students will be immersed in an environment of mathematics from day one of teaching. We are looking for young people with dedication and commitment, and we expect hard work. But we are also a small, close-knit, compassionate community that will care about students’ social, emotional and physical health.

"Mathematics is not immune from the issues in society, and we take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that this school breaks down barriers to ensure everyone can succeed in STEM."

Due to the School’s partnership with Imperial and links with leading organisations in STEM industries, there will be a wide selection of opportunities to expand students’ horizons and allow them to experience and explore mathematics and the world beyond the A Level curriculum. This will include guest lectures from Imperial academics, masterclasses and research projects in diverse areas such as coding, engineering, and astrophysics, and mentoring of sixth form students by current students at Imperial.

Sharing a love for maths

The School will also work with other schools and partners across a wider area, delivering outreach activities and other benefits, such as a new network of primary and secondary school maths teachers, in order to offer them professional development opportunities.

It joins the growing national network of sixth form maths schools aimed at increasing STEM graduates, including those linked with the universities of Cambridge, Durham, Leeds, Exeter, Lancaster, Liverpool, Surrey, Nottingham, and King’s College London.

Sugra Alibhai , Headteacher of Woodhouse College, said: "Woodhouse has long sought an opportunity to partner with others on a project such as this. By bringing together some of the best institutions in the field of education, Imperial College London Mathematics School will go from strength to strength..

"Young people need their sixth form options to offer two things - quality and choice. The demand for maths skills far outstrips the number of generalist and maths schools available across different regions of the UK. By offering a standalone maths school in the heart of north London, and with courses available from Woodhouse, we hope to tackle this challenge head on."

The admissions policy of the school is transparent and meritocratic, encouraging applications from all sections of society, with a particular interest in increasing diversity among applicants putting themselves forward for specialist STEM study at A Level and beyond. This ambition is in line with Imperial’s own widening participation plans across a range of subjects and study levels.

Applying for the next academic year

The admissions process for the 2024/25 academic year will open on 27 September and will conclude on 4 December. Applications can be completed online, and applicants are expected to complete a series of tests and interviews prior to confirmation of any offer.