Common Time 2019

Winchester College


The frontispiece of Newtons Principia Mathematics 1687 - In the Fellows Library
Winchester Mathematics
Prof. Sir Simon Donaldson

About three-quarters of Sixth Book study advanced Mathematics in combination with almost all groups of other subjects. This uniquely high proportion owes much to the cardinal importance of Mathematics today, when its language and techniques increasingly permeate the worlds of Science and Technology, Economics, Business and Finance, and even the Law. In its rôle as a universal discipline, Mathematics bears comparison with the position of Latin in past centuries. Apart from its manifold uses and applications, however, the 'gentle art of mathematics' intrigues and fascinates countless Wykehamists who delight in it for its own sake, and often study the subject at university.

The department consists of fourteen Mathematics teachers, some of whom have research degrees in Pure and Applied Mathematics, Physics, Engineering or Music. Moberly Library - the main School Library - houses a wide range of Mathematical books, and offers places for both discussion and quiet study. The Durran Library (named after a previous Head of Mathematics), in Flint Court, is used for tasktimes and private study.

The style of the teaching is investigative, challenging and thought-provoking and includes, for example, free-standing talks and mathematical competitions. We believe that pupils make best progress when they are taught with others of similar knowledge and ability. The grading is kept under constant review and boys often move up three sets during their first year. The highest sets explore many topics more usually studied at university. On the other hand, we adapt our style of teaching to the needs of the mathematically less able, whose talents may lie elsewhere.


All boys take the IGCSE at the end of their third year (Vth Book) although by this time many will have developed a mathematical understanding well beyond the prescribed examination syllabus. During their first three years some boys also take the UKMT Mathematical challenges, and many proceed to the next stage (Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad); a few go on to take BMO1 and BMO2.

Pre-U Mathematics

There are three pathways into Mathematics in VIth Book, and boys who wish to continue are advised which is most appropriate for them. ‘Accelerated Mathematics' is a one-year course leading to Pre-U Mathematics at the end of VI Book 2. ‘Further Mathematics' is a two-year course leading to Pre-U's in Mathematics and Further Mathematics at the end of VI Book 1. Finally, there is a two-year course leading to Pre-U Mathematics at the end of VI Book 1. Some boys in the top set take STEP1 at the end of VI Book 2.