After three years as Head of Mathematics at Rydal Penrhos, Pete Richmond will be returning the Scotland this summer and we sat down with him for a special interview, where he reflected on his time at the school, the highlights of the current academic year and what he will take from being part of the RP family.
How impressed have you been with the changes at the department during your time at the school?
Over the last three years, the department has undergone a lot of changes, particularly in terms of personnel.
Despite this, we have seen the A-Level pass rate increase greatly in this time, and the IGCSE pass rate for the past two years has been one of the strongest it has been in a while. This demonstrates that the department's shared vision is having a positive impact, and it bodes well for the future that the department can work well together as a cohesive group, especially in light of imminent changes to A-Level teaching with the introduction of linear courses.
What have been your highlights of the year?
The Junior team making it through to the National Final of the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust Team Maths Challenge has to be up there, alongside four of our strongest Lower Sixth mathematicians competing in Round One of the British Mathematical Olympiad.
A good number of our pupils achieved success at Gold, Silver or Bronze level in the individual Maths Challenge (including one Year 6 pupil Zac Roberts, who made a visit to the Senior School to sit the Junior Maths Challenge), and we always enjoy our annual visit to the Maths Inspiration Lectures.
What sets Maths apart from other subjects, and how does it interlink with other subjects?
In the sciences, Mathematics included, you are required to not only learn and understand the material, but apply it to solving problems too.
After all, mathematics and science permeate all aspects of our everyday lives. It is true to say that the Sciences also largely involve a linear learning process, such that one must understand prior material in order to build on this, and that the skills learned in one area of mathematics may well be called upon in order to solve a problem in a seemingly unrelated area.
Have you been impressed with pupils’ application this year?
It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort the vast majority of pupils put into their studies.
A typical day at Rydal Penrhos is long, yet pupils are so adept at managing their time they somehow manage to get everything done! Within the mathematics classrooms, pupils are always willing to engage in their learning, contributing to vital classroom discussion and forging those all-important teacher-pupil and peer interactions.
What are you expecting in terms of exam results?
We are expecting some very good results once more at IGCSE, and it would be nice to see our Additional Mathematicians emulating the phenomenal results from 2016.
At A-Level we have some very strong mathematicians, both in Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and so we are expecting some top grades once again, whilst for IB we are hoping for one or two Grade 7s and a strong showing at Standard Level.
What would you attribute the success of the department down to?
The success is largely down to the efforts and dedication of the Mathematics staff, whom I am very privileged to work alongside.
As well as aiming to develop, maintain and stimulate pupils’ curiosity, interest and enjoyment of the subject, they invariably go over and above in an attempt to provide the best for each and every learner: whether it be stretching the most able mathematician at Additional Mathematics, A-Level or IB teaching, or catering for those who find mathematics more challenging and are seeking the best possible grade they can.
How has Rydal Penrhos changed since the appointment of Mr Smith as Head?
There is certainly a renewed sense of optimism and, with the arrival of a series of fresh ideas and a great deal of experience, people are looking to the future with promise.
As you prepare to embark on a new adventure, what will be your lasting memory of your time at Rydal Penrhos?
I have had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the school over these past three years. I count myself lucky to have lived and worked in such a great location, with so much to offer, and to have experienced all that a boarding school like Rydal Penrhos has to give.
As I return to Scotland, I will be taking away a great deal of memories, not least the fantastic set of teaching and non-teaching staff that make the school such a great place to be a part of.