In the top class at Medbury School, maths is the most popular A-level subject. Of the 55 students, 28 have chosen to take the exam. And of these 28, 10 have chosen to follow not one but two of the three available A-level courses

Nor is this anything new. Maths regularly attracts more pupils than other A-levels, beating subjects such as sociology or English, which traditionally were more usually picked by girls – for Medbury is a girls' school.

This interest must be due to the importance that is given to maths at the school. However, the head, Olivia Lake, finds that many 11-year-old girls she interviews as part of the entrance test say maths is their favourite subject. "In the old days, girls were not given much support if they wanted to do maths, especially in co-educational schools. But in a single sex school today, they are definitely not pressured to avoid a career involving maths. I am sure that this influences how the girls perform in the subject."

Student Susan Hill sums up the success of the Medbury method: "In my mother's day maths was considered a dry subject, and the teacher had to make up for the subject by having a nice personality. But that's no longer true. Girls get interested in the subject itself and want to do well."


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