St Paul’s School / Academic

Our pupils are not just highly skilled but show enthusiasm and real understanding, and there’s a vital mathematics culture in the school. On any day you will hear boys of all ages discussing mathematics with knowledge and interest, and the mathematics staff equally find time to throw mathematical ideas around every day. The powerful intellectual curiosity characteristic of St Paul’s is exemplified by the passion for mathematics shown by staff and boys alike.

A central part of the School’s educational creed is that we do not accelerate our pupils by entering them early for public examinations. Instead we stretch them by providing extra depth, and in particular by using a wide range of harder questions and problems. We have consistent outstanding success in national competitions such as the British Mathematical Olympiad, and in this century we have provided more members of the UK team for the International Mathematical Olympiad than any other two schools put together, with a representative each year from 2011. Here is a typical challenge.

  • Divide an obtuse-angled triangle into the smallest possible number of separate triangles all of whose angles are strictly less than a right-angle

Curriculum

Mathematics is a core subject to GCSE. At A-level it is hugely popular: typically, well over 80% of Paulines take Mathematics in the Lower Eighth and in any year group between 50 and 75 boys study Further Mathematics.

GCSE

In the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth forms, at present all boys take a course leading to the EdExcel International GCSE, although this choice is under review with the national changes to GCSE. The teaching programme incorporates an innovative extension programme based on problem-solving skills.

AS and A level

At A level, we continue to follow the OCR specification, though again this will be subject to review in the near future. In the Lower Eighth, all boys studying Mathematics take three modules, many take four and further mathematicians take six. In the Upper Eighth, the remaining modules leading to the A2 qualification are taken, which means two or three for “single” mathematicians and six for further mathematicians.

Preparation is offered both for those seeking to read Mathematics at top universities and also for those for whom Mathematics is an important element of their intended degree course, such as Physics, Natural Sciences or Engineering. Not surprisingly, we have a high rate of success at Oxbridge. 

Extra-curricular

Central to the School’s mathematical profile are the various national mathematics competitions run by the UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT) – the Intermediate and Senior Mathematics Challenges, the Intermediate Olympiad (Cayley, Hamilton and Maclaurin) and the British Mathematical Olympiad rounds 1 and 2.

The Mathematics Society offers frequent talks by visiting speakers. Extra sessions of teaching mathematics are offered on a weekly basis to both juniors and seniors, with topics covered ranging from continued fractions to Galois Theory.

The Department makes a substantial contribution to mathematics education on a national level. Members have run Mathematical Circles on behalf of the UKMT, and contribute to its Summer Schools; are heavily involved in public examining work (one is a long-standing A-level Chief Examiner who has helped to advise on curriculum development); and have published widely, including one book on Combinatorics with a further to follow, and a book on mathematical statistics. The Editor of The Mathematical Gazette is a recently retired member of the Department and its Reviews Editor is a current member. 


Among the other mathematics competitions, St Paul’s has won the annual Hans Woyda Competition for London schools 11 times since 2004.

After St Paul's

Three Old Paulines are currently Professors of Mathematics at Oxford and Cambridge: Imre Leader, Oliver Riordan, Pelham Wilson.

More recently, Dominic Yeo (2003–8), currently completing his PhD at the University of Oxford, has been Deputy Team Leader at the International Mathematical Olympiad and Team Leader at the Balkan Mathematical Olympiad. James Aaronson (2007–12) won a gold and a bronze medal in the International Olympiads in 2008 and 2009 and was highly placed in Part II of the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos in 2015; he is about to start studying for a PhD at Oxford.

Klaus Roth (1939–43) won a Fields Medal in 1958 for his work on the Thue-Siegel-Roth theorem. The most prestigious of international Mathematical awards (the “Nobel Prize” of Mathematics), it is awarded every four years. In the last 74 years, just 52 people have won a Fields Medal.

The most famous Old Pauline mathematician is of course John Littlewood (1900–1903), Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge from 1928 to 1950. He is particularly remembered for his long and brilliant collaboration with G.H.Hardy (Bohr said “there are three really great mathematicians in England: Hardy, Littlewood, and Hardy-and-Littlewood”) and for his A Mathematician’s Miscellany.

Mathematics Staff Members

  • Photo of Andy Ashworth Jones

    Andy Ashworth Jones

    • Head of Mathematics
  • Photo of Sebastian Allon

    Sebastian Allon

  • Photo of Richard Barker

    Richard Barker

  • Photo of Richard Baxter

    Richard Baxter

  • Photo of Robert Breslin

    Robert Breslin

  • Photo of Luis Cereceda

    Luis Cereceda

  • Photo of Paul Charlton

    Paul Charlton

  • Photo of Chris Harrison

    Chris Harrison

  • Photo of Adrian Hemery

    Adrian Hemery

  • Photo of Samuel Hewitt

    Samuel Hewitt

  • Photo of Thomas Killick

    Thomas Killick

  • Photo of Thomas Lyster

    Thomas Lyster

  • Photo of Andy Mayfield

    Andy Mayfield

  • Photo of Ian McDonnell

    Ian McDonnell

  • Photo of Alexander Milne

    Alexander Milne

  • Photo of Tim Morland

    Tim Morland

  • Photo of James Ramsden

    James Ramsden

  • Photo of Amrita Shravat

    Amrita Shravat

  • Photo of Zhivko Stoyanov

    Zhivko Stoyanov

  • Photo of Owen Toller

    Owen Toller