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16+ KCL Maths School (Sixth Form)

(36 Posts)
bexxx Mon 02-Jan-17 16:08:24

Considering KCL Maths School as 6th form option, would be grateful for any thoughts or experiences that could help in decision between this and remaining at other very good 6th form school?
I would be interested to hear of past experiences, whether it was felt that the narrow subject range KCL Maths School was a good or bad thing in retrospect?
What was support like, prior to/during Uni application process?
How long did it take to settle in at new "school"?
Where could we get impartial advice on final two school options, particularly regarding university opinions on respective schools?
They don't yet know what career they want to pursue, but definitely leaning heavily towards Maths/Science subjects. Has anyone found that this changed between age 16 and 18?
Would really appreciate any feedback.
Many thanks

OP’s posts: |
Toomanyworriedsonhere Thu 05-Jan-17 13:13:02

I'd also love to know what experience anyone has of this school - DD has an interview!

user7214743615 Thu 05-Jan-17 16:03:00

Where could we get impartial advice on final two school options, particularly regarding university opinions on respective schools?

University opinions on respective schools? There aren't any.

University offers are based on A level grades (and extension papers like STEP for maths at top universities). Universities don't have opinions about specific schools. The KCL school offers a bit more maths extension than many other good sixth forms, but this advantage is probably balanced out by the narrow range of subjects and the lack of non-maths/science extra-curriculars etc.

alittlebitprivateforthis Thu 05-Jan-17 17:16:56

Just checking nc works.

alittlebitprivateforthis Thu 05-Jan-17 17:25:28

ok. I've a dc at KCL in Year 12 so I can't answer some of your questions. I can also only answer them from my perspective.

It's a brilliant sixth form if the subjects your dc would like to do are maths, further maths and physics and they absolutely love maths. They offer a lot more maths extension than any other sixth form we visited, in fact there are very few frees and the timetable and after school are jam packed with maths. They don't follow the curriculum in the traditional sense and ordinary maths lessons contain extension and STEP questions right from the first week.

They do try and make sure that dc are more well rounded than just maths though. They have to chose a sport which is done during the school day. They have to chose from a diverse range of clubs, with everything from latin to knitting to games club. They spend one term in their first year being taught a language.

As well as maths, fm and physics they choose between as economics or computing and do an epq.

A level choices are by definition narrowing. If those are the subjects your dc would like to do, then it's a good choice. If they want a different selection, then it isn't.

Toomanyworriedsonhere Thu 05-Jan-17 23:26:00

Thanks alittlebitprivate!
Good to hear from somebody with experience - it's such a new school.

alittlebitprivateforthis Fri 06-Jan-17 08:43:27

No problem! It is a new school, but I think it is settling into itself quite nicely. Certainly the teaching is outstanding and the pastoral support so far has been very, very good. Good luck to your dd.

evenstrangerthings Fri 06-Jan-17 14:19:52


My DD is currently in Yr 13 at KCLMS. She loves it and will not have a negative word spoken about it! The school really does embrace the whole "maths and science are cool" philosophy and nerds, non nerds and maths geniuses and non maths geniuses alike feel comfortable at the school. There are some students who are basically studying all the maths modules because they love maths and are so good at it. There are also students who took GCSE Maths in Year 11 and didn't study GCSE Further Maths/Additional Maths. The school seems to do well by all its students.

My DD scored better than we hoped at AS - the school has definitely "added value" to her grades. The Maths teaching appears to be superb. She has the Head Teacher as one of her Maths teachers and tells me that there's nowhere to hide in his lessons. He's very enthusiastic and he makes sure that EVERYONE understands the work by the end of the lesson. She says he's her best teacher. They also have Maths Problem Solving classes which help the students to tackle problems that they're likely to see at STEP or in the MAT. These go "beyond the curriculum" and will stand the students in good stead for when they reach Uni.

The Physics teaching is very good. My DD found A-Level Physics difficult from week 1 but managed to pull an A at AS.

She had 3 different Comp Sci teachers last year and the school dropped the full A level Comp Sci for Yr 13's this year. Disappointing but it shouldn't affect her Uni options. She tells me that the Comp Sci dept got better results than the Economy dept at AS last year. The school are (rightly) proud of their excellent Maths/FM results but have yet to offer actual stats for their Econ/Comp Sci results.

Regarding Uni options - the school seem not to "over predict" when it comes to UCAS Application Predicted Grades. None of this BBB at AS leading to predictions of A*AA that you see all too often on The Student Room. DD asked for one of her predicted grades to be lifted by 1 grade to match some of the Uni's she's chosen but they refused (to be fair - students were given the predicted grades early in September and were told it was unlikely that any of them would be changed)

They also wouldn't let her see her UCAS Teacher Reference, however we did get to see it under the Data Protection Act by paying UCAS a small fee. It was a glowing reference and showed that they knew her well on a personal and academic level. The only issue was that they they omitted mentioning the numerous changes that my DD's Comp Sci class had (they had told her not to waste space in her statement since they would mention it)

The school had a good chunk of kids go to Oxbridge last year including one student who the school recommended should not apply. They seem a bit "private school" when it comes to these things but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. They took the students to Open Days at KCL (of course!), Imperial and Warwick at the end of Year 12. DD has indeed applied to KCL but it's not one of her favourites as she's now over familiar with the Uni since they do go there a bit and have people come from the Uni to the school for talks/teaching sessions quite a bit too.

They are surprisingly accepting of students who don't want to apply to Uni and will support them in applying for Apprenticeships/Employment. One girl last year went off to work at Dyson.

They support weaker students well - but towards the end of Year 12 will call those who look like they won't get at least BCC (I think) at AS level into a meeting and warn them that unfortunately they won't be able to start Year 13 unless they achieve BCC. Several kids from DD's cohort did not proceed to Year 13 but I think they do allow kids to repeat Yr 12.

One thing I noticed last year was that come AS exam time there was no study leave. Some days my DD would come out of an exam and go straight into revision classes to prep for upcoming exams. The students were also given individual timetables around this time so they only went to classes based on which modules they personally needed work on (but were welcome to sit in regardless)

The students have 4 set internal exam periods each year (Nov, Jan, March, May) and "predicted grades" are generated and updated based on the results of these with the benchmark "predicted grade" based on, I assume, how the student did at GCSE and on the school's entrance test. The school is very data driven in that respect. Each student also gets a suggested timetable for recap and review classes that take place at lunch time and after school, again based on each student's strengths and weaknesses.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

bexxx Fri 06-Jan-17 15:53:23

Many thanks for the feedback, alittlebitprivateforthis & evenstrangerthings - I was beginning to think I wouldn't get any answers so hadn't checked back in for a while smile . Had a couple of questions from dd - one, what the catering provision is ie does the cafe actually serve lunch or is it just an eating area, bring your own packed lunch? Secondly, what is the workload like compared to other schools (homework and free periods-wise)? I worry a little about the walk to/from Waterloo - any feedback on that from a general safety point of view? Oh and another question - how are the laptops used, as it seems that you have to get one from them, or can you use your own?
Many thanks smile

OP’s posts: |
alittlebitprivateforthis Fri 06-Jan-17 17:02:19

The cafe is just a room with a vending machine and a couple of microwaves. There are places within easy walking distance to pick something up. But I think many take a packed lunch.

The walk from waterloo is really safe if you choose a nice route. Quick as well. You go out of waterloo the back way where the taxis are (opposite end to the river) and go right and eventually on to Lower Marsh. All crossings and no dodgy alleys if you plot it ok. There is one tunnel near by I wouldnt go down by myself.

Workload wise - just keep on top of it. There are very few free periods. They advise I think about 12-15 hours a week extra but my dc does nothing like that usually. Basically allow a couple of hours an evening and then a weekend morning, but be consistent! It must vary hugely on the child though.

alittlebitprivateforthis Fri 06-Jan-17 17:03:40

Laptops are essential I think. My dc uses theirs everyday. Homework is often emailed in, especially for computing and for the EPQ.

evenstrangerthings Fri 06-Jan-17 17:28:16

The Year 13s are allowed to come in late/leave early if they have frees at either end of the day. DD does most of her H/W during her frees and then spends evenings and weekend going over notes and doing extra papers. Some students manage to fit in part time jobs.

Lambeth North is the closest station. It is closed for refurb now but should be opening in a few months. There's usually other KCLMS students walking to/ from the station.

bexxx Fri 06-Jan-17 17:33:21

Thanks very much for the feedback, you've been really helpful, and you've reassured me about the commute. Will wait to see how the next stage goes; she actually seemed really excited by the school on first impressions, but her alternative also has a lot going for it. If she gets an offer it may be quite a tough decision for her I think.

OP’s posts: |
Ciutadella Fri 06-Jan-17 17:36:53

This is very interesting! Also interesting that they have dropped computer science A2/A level - do you know why this was? Sounds as though they may have had difficulty getting the teachers if dd had three teachers last year?

I'd assumed it was for total maths genii only, but if there are students not getting BCC, presumably it is a wider range than that?

I have no practical interest as don't have a dc who is interested, but would also be interesting to know what the demographic is - is it quite local, or do students go there from all over London?

alittlebitprivateforthis Fri 06-Jan-17 18:00:32

evenstranger - I didn't know that about being able to go in later when there are frees. Something to look forward to.

The geographical distribution is huge. Goes way beyond London. Admission is by grades (A* and A for maths and physics) an exam and by interview. They look for potential, so not the traditional background of a selective school and it has a very diverse community. The results can be found on their website.

bexxx - happy to answer as many questions as your dd has!

Toomanyworriedsonhere Fri 06-Jan-17 19:54:06

Thanks from me, too - I can't wait to show DD this.

She has the interview next week and we didn't get a chance to go to an open day so the school is quite an unknown quantity really. Although I've read every page on the website about twenty times!

She will need strong pastoral support, which we'll have to talk to them about if she gets an offer.

TheCheeseAlarm Fri 06-Jan-17 20:32:41

DS1 is also in Year 13. He loves it and has friends in a way he didn't before. He would have studied the same subjects whichever 6th form he went to and is applying for Maths courses at University. Having had to drop the Computing A2 due to lack of teacher, he has had the opportunity to do a much more interesting undergraduate course at KCL. So he's happy and it hasn't affected his university applications at all.

He does all his Monday to Friday prep and homework at school and leaves when it shuts at 7.30pm. He gets home around 8:45pm. He saves bigger stuff for the weekend. He is lazy child and does no extra papers or reading as far as I can tell. He is keeping up academically but they despair over his personal organisation and ability to get his homework in on time. They haven't given up trying to help him improve though.

He has been thoroughly supported through his university applications. He was well prepped for the additional Maths exams that he has done for various universities and will be ready for the STEP papers in the summer

DS is always in trouble for being late - he is, however, doing 3 additional Maths units on top of his Maths and Further Maths A2s so I suspect actually doesn't have any frees. I have found that they do not entirely follow through with the agreed sanctions we have set in place for him which. The pastoral team have been very supportive though and his SEN has been dealt with professionally and sensitively.

He has been very creative with the TfL journey planner and managed to find himself a route which involves getting a bus from outside the school.

I find parents evening a pain as it is a 4 hour round trip for a 10 minute meeting for me at that time of night but I have good regular communication by phone and email.

The sport he has chosen is... walking. I think he walks to a local park and sits on a bench once a week.

I just know that he has finally found his people, is taught really well and is very, very happy.

evenstrangerthings Fri 06-Jan-17 20:44:56

"I just know that he has finally found his people, is taught really well and is very, very happy."
- Ditto this!

Also just remembered - laptops are essential - they have access to digital text books and other digital resources - and I've been told the schools internet is so good that some students have been known to use it for downloading non academic material :-)

alittlebitprivateforthis Sat 07-Jan-17 14:34:05

For those worrying about public transport woes and the impact of being late. So far they seem to have been very reasonable when travel goes to pot. I'm still a bit concerned about the possibility of the trains going horribly wrong during public exams, but that must be a risk of going to school anywhere in central London.

Toomanyworriedsonhere Sat 07-Jan-17 20:56:05

Are they strict about attendance?

alittlebitprivateforthis Sat 07-Jan-17 21:01:05

I asked my dc as it's something we haven't had to face yet. They think that the school is reasonable if people have good reasons. Less strict than their old school which was very obsessed.
They are strict about time keeping, but human with it.

Toomanyworriedsonhere Sat 07-Jan-17 21:26:04

I know schools get judged on attendance, but I wasn't sure whether sixth form colleges have to be so rigid.

bexxx Thu 02-Feb-17 22:03:43

Hi there, can anybody tell us what the school day/timetable looks like timings-wise please? ie start time, lesson lengths, lunch time, finish tiime, double periods etc?


OP’s posts: |
WeirdOne Thu 02-Feb-17 23:18:42

Hi Bexxx, we're no use to you re timings, but my DD has been offered a place.
Does yours have one too?
We have a hard decision to make!

bexxx Thu 02-Feb-17 23:31:13

yes but I'm trying not to get involved too much wink

OP’s posts: |

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