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April 2

Spotlight on Senior Maths

Maths teacher Mr Tarr tells us all about the benefits of Senior Maths at Blackheath High School and how it is a benefical gateway to many skills and careers.

How long have you been teaching Maths at Blackheath High School?

I have been teaching at Blackheath High Senior School for nearly two years now.

Can you tell me about your background?

I grew up in Scotland but went to Nottingham to study Civil Engineering at university. Although I enjoyed the subject I didn’t see myself pursuing it as a career: there’s a limit to how interesting I find concrete! My parents were both teachers so I guess the profession must have called to me from an early age. I decided I wanted to do something exciting where I could make a direct difference in peoples’ lives and teaching looked fun! I did a PGCE in Southampton and taught in Central London for seven years before moving to Blackheath.

What is covered in Maths? What are your students working on at the moment?

I really enjoy teaching such a wide variety of subjects and age groups, it’s a great challenge. Currently I’m teaching Year 9 about the 2500-year-old topic of Loci which involves a lot of practical work. I’m doing another practical subject, Moments, with my Year 13 which reminds me of my Civil Engineering days, and in Year 13 Further Maths we’re looking at integrating trigonometric functions using the Weierstrauss substitution. Don’t ask!

Is it a popular choice of subject?

GCSE students have to take the subject of course, but Maths is one of the most popular A Level subjects at Blackheath High School, which is a real testament to the effort and engagement of the department.

What are the benefits of studying this subject?

Maths is a gateway to so many skills and careers: any hobby or job involving logic, statistics, proportion or real-life modelling benefits from good mathematical skills. If you want a high-paying job in programming, finance, science or engineering, then Maths is the key to that. Also people with a Maths A Level earn 10% more on average than those without across their career. As a mathematician you also get really good at Sudoku.

What is unique about Maths here?

At Blackheath High School we offer a really personalised experience: we know how all our students are doing and act to make sure that they have the ability to achieve their best. We are also reflective and every year strive to improve the learning experiences of our students. For example this year our Head of Department, Mrs O’Hanlon, introduced the Maths Support Hub. This is a space that students can go during any lunchtime for help from teachers, to meet their mentors, or just for a quiet place to practise. It has been a great success.

Is there a particular aspect of the course that students tend to enjoy?

There are too many to count! (pun intended)


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