Our story

Exeter Mathematics School is an Ofsted outstanding, state funded, 6th form school, jointly sponsored by the University of Exeter and Exeter College. Opened in September 2014, the school is open to students from across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. We also work extensively with students and teachers in other schools, inspiring enthusiasts for maths, physics and computing across the region (more information on our South West activities pages).

Our ethos – Freedom for thinkers

What could be more creative than exploring the secrets of the universe?

At Exeter Mathematics School we love getting our teeth into the mind-bending challenges and revelations of maths, physics and computing.  So we have set about designing the perfect environment for this special kind of creativity to thrive.

That means minimising the things that often stifle enthusiasm for our favourite subjects – classmates who don’t care; lessons that are just about passing exams. And it means bringing together a really eclectic, intrepid group of students who share our enthusiasm and have the grit to get stuck in.

Our special formula has three key ingredients…

No-one needs forcing to do anything – you wear what you like, work with teachers as equals and build the confidence to pursue the ideas that really interest you without the normal scaffolding you would expect in sixth form study.

We push you further – with awesome teaching, opportunities to work with top Exeter University academics and loads of big, baffling, open-ended (and sometimes unsolvable) questions.

And you’re part of one big family – we’re close-knit and we all know each other, so even when you’re boldly exploring new horizons, you’re looked after every step of the way.

Our pioneering formula got a resounding thumbs-up from Ofsted.  But the verdict that matters to us – because we hear it direct from students and parents – is that, by freeing up our students to explore the subjects they love inside out, we get to change their lives.

Latest Prospectus

Our latest prospectus will give you a snap-shot of what we’re all about but we also recommend you have a good browse through our website for lots more information:  EMS-Prospectus

Who are we for?

Really anyone.  At least, anyone who enjoys maths.  Our students come from right across the South West from a whole range of backgrounds and have a broad range of interests from sport to music, from art to debating.  We celebrate that diversity whilst enjoying the common interest we share in the mathematical sciences.

The majority of our students come from non-selective state schools and most definitely do not consider themselves to be geniuses.  The key to their success is enthusiasm for the subjects they study, embracing one another to form a supportive community and being prepared to be challenged in a new way.

If you’re interested in applying but not sure if this is the right place for you, we recommend you explore this website and then sign up for a taster day or open event to get a real sense of what we’re all about.

Proposal to expand our catchment area

Consultation from 1st September 2021 to 12th October 2021

We are proposing the expansion of our catchment area to include the remainder of the South West (Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire) from 2024.  To accommodate the increase in demand for spaces we will increase our intake from 64 to 90 (or 100 if there is enough demand) and will move into a larger building.

A more detailed rationale for this proposal is given here: EMS Expansion Rationale

We invited interested people to share their views via an online form and offered meetings and telephone conversations to those who would like more information.  The consultation form closed on the 12th October and received responses from 94 people:

  1. The vast majority (91%) agreed with expanding the school’s catchment area
  2. All (100%) agree with providing affordable boarding
  3. Most agreed (84%) with an increase in student numbers
  4. Most agreed (85%) with a corresponding increase in outreach activities

A more detailed summary is available here: results of expansion consultation

We will now share these results with the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West and wait for the outcome of our bid for funding and permission to expand.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation, we have read your comments carefully and will be mindful of the issues you raised as we progress to the next step.

What’s Next?

EMS 10 Year Vision

In 2021/22 we will 

  • Adapt to meet the emerging needs due to the current pandemic 
  • Secure funding and a suitable site for an expanded school with boarding provision 
  • Expand the delivery of Maths Circles to positively impact more students, including the most disadvantaged 
  • Positively contribute towards the establishment of a collaborative and purposeful Maths School Network 
  • Strengthen systems for finance, admissions, marketing and the tracking of Alumni 
  • Focus on wellbeing of staff and students by 
      • Subscribing to and acting upon the DfE’s Education Staff Wellbeing Charter 
      • Seeking Investors in People certification 
      • Providing more employee benefits 
      • Developing a new pastoral system  
      • Becoming a Gender Action Champion 

By 2024 we will: 

  • Be in a new school building, serving students from across the whole of the Southwest 
  • Have affordable boarding accommodation for all who need it 
  • Be considered a first-choice destination for both staff and students 
  • Have secured a reputation as an excellent place for female students to study STEM subjects
  • Have developed relationships with new Industry partners 
  • Be delivering more outreach to teachers and students, having a measurable positive impact on STEM education in our region  
  • Have firmly established, strong links with both Sponsors which transcend individuals  

By 2027 we will: 

  • Have an intake of 90 -100 students 
  • Have 50% of students boarding with us 
  • Be actively involved in SW STEM networks 
  • Have an active alumni community who support one another and are a source of inspiration to younger students 
  • Conduct meaningful research into STEM education 
  • Be sharing best practice with other schools to support under-represented groups, including female students, to study Physics, Computer Science and Further Maths within our region

By 2031 we will 

  • Be a centre of best practice for maths pedagogy 
  • Have a leading role in research and innovation 
  • See an increase the uptake of Further Maths, Physics and Computer Science from under-represented groups in the South West
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