The Department is staffed by energetic and caring teachers who love their subject.
Our aim is always to
- communicate this love of maths
- develop and nurture it in boys
- make them realise that maths is not an impossibly rarefied skill that only a few can acquire
- empower each boy to achieve the most competitive exam results possible.
We are a lively and unified department, constantly striving to be innovative and up-to-date in our approach and to make mathematics relevant and contemporary.
Mathematics Grade 8 – 12
We follow the National South African Mathematics curriculum and write the Department of Education National Senior Certificate in Grade 12. The final Bishops Grade 12 WCED Mathematics results have been impressive over the past few years with a grade average close to 80% every year; well over half the boys score in excess of 80%, and about half of them exceed 90%.
Maths Literacy Grade 10 – 12
Mathematic Literacy has been in place for some time now and is offered to boys who cannot cope with the core Mathematics course. It focuses on areas in real life where Mathematics is needed and provides pupils with an awareness and understanding of the role that Mathematics has in the modern world. Pupils following this course would not go on to study a Science or Business Degree at University. On average, 20 - 25 boys in each of Grades 10 to 12 benefit from the option of taking Maths Literacy.
Advanced Programme Mathematics Grade 10 – 12
Additional Mathematics is now known as Advanced Programme (AP) Mathematics and, although no longer a matric subject offered by the Department of Education, it can be written through the IEB. A separate certificate will be issued on passing this examination. It is taught to pupils in the top two Maths sets of each grade.
The Setting System
There is a "setting system" in place and each grade has 6 or 7 Maths sets. Whilst each set teacher will teach in his or her own particular way, we regularly have Common Tests and other forms of assessment across a Grade to help us ensure that boys are in the set most suited to their abilities and potential and that they are being taught at the pace that best suits them, while still covering all the material.
South African Maths Olympiad
Every mathematics student at Bishops participates in the South African Mathematics Olympiad. The competition takes place over three rounds and is accessible to all students as a result of this graded approach. Many boys will write National Benchmark Tests in their Grade 12 year and we feel that the experience of writing the SAMO over their five years at the College provides them with useful practice in this type of multiple-choice testing. The number of boys advancing to Round 3 varies each year, with the record currently sitting at 21, achieved in 2011.
UCT Maths Competition
Bishops has been either 1st or 2nd in this annual competition for the past thirty years. 15 pupils from each Grade are selected to represent the school and a total of almost 6 000 pupils compete on the night. In 2009 we set a record for having all 5 individuals participating from one grade coming in the top 10 two years in a row; this record still stands.
Technology and the Laptop Programme
We use computers and information technology as an integral part of our teaching.
Staff use their data projectors and interactive software like Autograph and Geometer’s sketchpad for demonstration purposes or as an investigative tool for pupils. Pupils in Grade 9 and 10 use their laptops when the section of work being taught is conducive to the use of Excel spreadsheets or free software like Geogebra or Autograph. All boys, in all grades, need to access the intranet frequently to make use of the resources available to them.
Maths Support Programme
The Maths Support Programme runs in the afternoons and is available to any pupil who has missed work due to absence or is having difficulties and requires additional help. We prefer the boys to make use of this support system offered free at school rather than going outside to extra lessons.
CASS tasks and absence from school
Boys who are absent from school when a common test is written are not permitted to write the test on their return to school. They will be given a copy of the test to write in their own time and can certainly ask their teacher to mark it for them, but it will not count towards their CASS mark. When boys know that they are going to be away from school because of other school commitments, they must speak to their teacher in advance to see if arrangements can be made for them to write the test ahead of time
Grade 12 boys who are absent from school when a common test is written must hand a medical certificate to Jenny Campbell (HOD Maths) on their return. This is a requirement of the Department of Basic Education, and since CASS marks form a significant part of each boy’s final matric mark, it is quite a reasonable one.