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Mathematics

The Department is hugely subscribed for post-GCSE courses, with many students studying both A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

Academic achievement is a large part of what we aim for, and the Department continues to have fantastic results at all levels, including at iGCSE, AS and A-level.

Staff

Stephen Campbell

Stephen Campbell

Deputy Head Academic
BSc

As well as teaching Mathematics, Mr Campbell is the Deputy Head Academic. In this role, he leads the Academic Leadership Team, which has overall responsibility for the academic curriculum, academic programmes, university applications and careers guidance. He is also the School’s Timetabler and is a Sixth Form Tutor, with a specialism in applications to the USA and Canada.

Richard Charman

Richard Charman

Deputy Head (Co-curricular); Teacher of Mathematics
BA

Mr Charman teaches Mathematics in the Junior School and Senior Schools in addition to overseeing the School's large programme of co-curricular events and activities.

Richard McCorkell

Richard McCorkell

Teacher of Mathematics; Housemaster of Evans
BSc

Mr McCorkell is from Northern Ireland, and is a graduate of Edinburgh University. He has many sporting interests, in particular hockey and cricket. He became Housemaster of Evans in August 2016.

Jenny Moran

Jenny Moran

Teacher of Mathematics and Computing
BSc

Miss Moran joined the Computing & Mathematics Departments in 2017. Having previously taught in Dublin and the United Arab Emirates, she brings a wealth of experience in Maths, Computing and IT. She has been involved extensively in co-curricular activities such as a Computing Clubs and Athletics, as well as developing the e-Learning environment in her previous school. She is passionate about running and working with charities.

Naomi Steen

Naomi Steen

Teacher of Mathematics
MSci, PhD

Dr Steen is from Northern Ireland and is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast, where she also completed her PGCE. Since joining Merchiston, she has taught throughout the School; at A Level her particular focus is on Pure Maths. In 2018, she was appointed Second in Department. Outside the classroom, Dr Steen is a resident tutor in Chalmers East. She helps to prepare students for the SATs and is heavily involved with the School’s Drama productions.

Julian Vaughan

Part-time teacher of Mathematics
BSc

Mr Vaughan retired from the full time staff in 2012, but still returns to teach in the VI Form.

Juliet Vaughan

Juliet Vaughan

Teacher of Mathematics; Director of Studies, Merchiston Juniors, Deputy Head (Academic)
BA

Miss Vaughan is Deputy Head (Academic) of Merchiston Juniors and leads on curriculum and academic issues and Support for Learning in the Juniors, as well as teaching Junior Maths. She is a very experienced teacher who brings out the best in all of her pupils.

Federica Vian

Federica Vian

Head of Mathematics
BSc, PhD

Dr Vian is from Venice, Italy, and took her first degree at the University of Padua, followed by a PhD at Parma University. Following a period of post-doctoral research in Copenhagen, she moved to Scotland, where she trained as a teacher of Mathematics. Federica teaches throughout the School, with a focus on gifted and able pupils.

Facilities

Housed in the ‘Napier Schools’ which also contain the Theatre, the Department also has a facility in the upstairs foyer, allowing for lessons with the huge amount of extra teaching which takes place in small groups, as well as an area in which pupils and staff can relax. This was funded through a kind donation to the department from the parents of two Merchistonians, Ben and Douglas Quayle.

The Department is looking smarter with plenty of improvements in the infrastructures, among which is a beautifully refurbished kitchen. Staff continue to compete fiercely in the Friday Great Maths Bake off.

Curriculum

I Form: The scheme used in I Form is Teejay Mathematics, as used in most Scottish Primary schools. Mathematics is taught in a differentiated way, according to each student’s level at 5-14. Daily mental testing is carried out.

II & III Forms: The scheme used here is Mathematics in Action, and there are normally two sets in II Form and three in III Form. By the end of the III Form, pupils have covered all of the topics set out in 5-14.

IV Form: Pupils begin a three-year preparation for iGCSE. As a core subject, all pupils will study it to the end of V Form, normally with the same member of staff. Two tests (NFER and MidYIS) are used in conjunction with knowledge of pupils’ abilities and attitudes to get the most accurate possible setting. All boys possess a calculator recommended by the school, but also spend time working without it. Many sit the UKMT Junior Mathematics Challenge, which is a National competition, designed to stimulate enquiring minds.

Shell and V Forms: Currently, all sets are entered for iGCSE. Many students in these year groups take the Intermediate Mathematics Challenge.

Sixth Form:

A level: The scheme is linear, assessed by written papers at the end of a two-year course. The subject content is divided into three areas: Pure Mathematics, Statistics and Mechanics, which are assessed in three components. Some will take a total of seven components to qualify for Further Mathematics certification at A Level. Upper Sixth courses all include more Pure Mathematics, but the precise balance will be chosen by the student, together with the Department, to reflect the best interests of those in the set.

Higher: This course builds on the iGCSE. The syllabus is of Pure Mathematics, applied in a wide variety of problem contexts. During the Lower VI, these students take the first year of the A level course, in preparation for Higher.

Activities

Activities during the year include the Maths Fun Day for P5 pupils from many state and prep schools from Edinburgh and surroundings.

Many students also take part in the UKMT Maths Challenges throughout the year, both as individuals and in teams. Shell pupils who come top in the Intermediate Maths Challenge participate in the UKMT Mathematical Circle, a new enrichment event for around forty able young mathematicians.

Another cohort of Shell pupils is involved in the Edinburgh University Mathematics Masterclass Day in June.

Achievements

2018/19 was another very successful year in the UK Mathematics Challenges and Olympiads. The results were as follows:

Senior: 10 gold, 11 silver, 17 bronze, 1 British Mathematics Olympiad qualifiers, 10 European Kangaroo qualifiers

Intermediate: 7 gold, 11 silver, 13 bronze, 1 Intermediate Maths Olympiad qualification, 5 qualifications for the European Kangaroo

Junior: 3 gold, 4 silver, 15 bronzes.

As in the three previous years, we participated in the UKMT Senior Team and Junior Team Mathematics Challenges. Unfortunately, neither of our teams qualify among the first three teams this year, but participation served as very good experience for future competitions and the eight pupils involved gained plenty in terms of mathematical skills (during the preparation) and amusement on the day.

Our student-led Medical Society provides opportunities for prospective medics to collaboratively apply their scientific knowledge in a medical context. On average, 7% of our Year 13 students have applied for Medicine at university over the last three years.

Merchiston

Through our close links with the Roslin Institute, IGCSE and A Level pupils also get to experience advanced genetics techniques as well as a wide range of the usual practical work offered within schools. Being able to use the Roslin labs has enabled the department to deliver hands on experiments on subject matter elsewhere only able to be taught theoretically.

Ms Williams Head of Biology

Coming from a state school, science was taught very theoretically. Here at Merchiston, we do so many practicals to reinforce our knowledge. This has given me a totally different view on school in general: every day I wake up and I look forward to my lessons

Vincent B Year 11 (S4)

Science News

Main School Building

The Merchiston community has once again enjoyed a set of outstanding A level results.