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 Mission

To raise the aspirations and achievements of mathematically able young people in the South West of England. 

Our Vision

Students will leave EMS well prepared for their next steps, having been challenged, inspired and supported to excel.  They will have a palpable enthusiasm for learning, the confidence to face challenges and the skills to equip them to succeed. 

We will inspire and nurture a love of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science in younger students and will support teacher development in the South West of England.  EMS will be a beacon of excellence, contributing to educational research and the development of pedagogy, and an active partner in the collaborative network of Maths Schools.   

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.

Our Values

At EMS we value 


We take care of each other and put people at the heart of decision making.  Our community is built on acceptance, with each person of equal worth.  We embrace our differences whilst enjoying our common interests.  We look for the good in ourselves and others.  We are kind.  


We embrace mistakes.  We understand that they are an essential part of the route to success.  When we are learning something new, we know that we’re likely to make more mistakes.  We recognise that mistakes can be good and can signal that learning is taking place.  We will be patient and kind to ourselves and others as we learn from our mistakes.  


Honesty builds trust and enables our community to flourish.  It leads to greater freedom and a positive culture. 


Learning something new or working out how to do something better can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.  There’s always something to strive for and often effort is its own reward.  We embrace challenge, aspire to achieve and seek out opportunities to learn.  


We are curious.  We explore new ideas and are prepared to change our minds.   We value a broad range of opportunities and welcome the growth that comes from new experiences.  


We take delight in what we do and the people we do it with.  We laugh, we chat, we work, we play – all of which bring pleasure and joy.  The journey is as important as the destination and we intend to have fun along the way.  

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.


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

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

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.

Update on our next steps – 31st January 2023

Following the consultation we were initially unable to secure funds for a new building but continued to work with the DfE to seek a solution.  We are delighted that a new potential source of funding has been identified and so we are re-opening our consultation to enable those who did not contribute last academic year but now have an interest in the school are able to contribute their thoughts.  This consultation will close on Monday 27th February, after which we will share the results and update you on our next steps.

To share your thoughts, please complete this form.

We will hold a public meeting in school on Thursday 23rd February at 4pm at Exeter Mathematics School at which you may ask questions.

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