Somerset College stands out amid a national decline in higher-level mathematics enrolments, with a significant increase in students opting for higher-level mathematics courses. Our success is driven by passionate teachers committed to fostering a deep understanding of mathematics and instilling a love for the subject in our students.

Headlines such as, “High school students are ditching high-level mathematics subjects”, have been prevalent in recent media. A 2024 report by The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI), states that enrolments in mathematics have slumped to an alarming low. The report, titled: ‘Year 12 Mathematics Participation Report Card’, found that while around 71% of Year 12 students have been enrolled in one or more mathematics subjects during the past decade, enrolments from 2020 have slumped to 66%. Enrolments in higher-level subjects, like Specialist Mathematics have fallen by around 11% over the same period[i].

At Somerset, however, the trend has been different. Since 2016, there has been a steady increase in enrolments of students opting for higher-level mathematics. Enrolments in Mathematical Methods (Maths B prior to 2019) has risen from 52% in 2016 to 75% in 2024. Similarly, enrolment in Specialist Mathematics (Maths C prior to 2019) has grown from approximately 22% to 47% at the time of writing. For reference, 19.6% study Mathematical Methods and 6.4% study Specialist Mathematics across the state.

Witnessing such enthusiasm among our students speaks volumes about their passion for the subject and the long-established culture of mathematics in the College. While Australia grapples with a shortage of qualified Mathematics teachers, Somerset has a different story.

1. Dedicated and Experienced Educators

Our Mathematics Department is powered by teachers with extensive experience dedicated to the success of our students. Many of our Senior Mathematics teachers actively engage with the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) as Confirmers, Endorsers, External Exam Markers, Scrutineers, and Examination Writers. They bring a wealth of knowledge and up-to-date educational practices into the classroom and they ensure that they are at the forefront of assessment standards and practices, which directly benefits students.

2. Innovative and Inclusive Curriculum

As defined by the Australian Curriculum, the study of mathematics is integral to quantifying, thinking critically and making sense of the world.[ii]
The curriculum aims to ensure that students are confident, creative users who are able to investigate and interpret situations in their personal and work lives. By welcoming students of varying abilities into advanced classes, the College fosters an environment where students feel encouraged to have a go.

3. Supportive Learning Environment

The College provides a supportive environment where students are assigned classes according to their ability. This allows for tailored instruction that better meets individual learning needs. The Essential and General Mathematics pathways, in Years 8 to 10, typically cover the same content as the Standard courses, but at a pace defined by the learning needs of the students. As a result, students can build confidence and achieve greater success without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Extended Mathematics Courses

The introduction Extended Mathematics courses in Years 9 and 10 and Enrichment in Year 10, have been pivotal in preparing students for advanced courses in Year 11. They provide a solid foundation and foster a deeper understanding of concepts. More students now opt for Mathematics Extended over Standard Mathematics in Years 9 and 10.

5. Student Engagement and Enthusiasm

At the time of writing, Mathematical Methods is the most popular subject in Year 11 QCE. Moreover, enrolments in QCE Mathematics at Somerset, account for nearly 30% of all enrolments. Initiatives such as the Somerset Mathematical Society, Mathematical Olympiads, and various other competitions, help promote high levels of student engagement in the Middle Years.

6. Support Systems

Comprehensive support systems, including tutoring via AAA, study groups, video and online lessons and additional resources for students who need extra help, ensure that every student has the opportunity to access help and plan for success at their respective level.

7. Leadership and Vision

In 2018, I highlighted our commitment to reimagining mathematics by fostering personal connections between students and the subject matter. (Academic Excellence in Mathematics in the 21st Century, Somerset 2018). Our goal was to cultivate a genuine understanding of mathematical concepts and procedures, emphasising the "why" behind mathematical principles rather than just the "how." This has helped us foster a positive culture of mathematics and remove barriers to enrolments in advanced levels. Beginning with the classroom teacher, leadership at Somerset College has a clear vision for the role of mathematics in the overall education of our students. We aim to consistently improve teaching methods and resources, and to develop a culture that values and supports mathematical achievement.

8. Parental and Community Support

Active involvement from parents and the community also contributes to the success of the mathematics program. Support from home, coupled with encouragement to pursue challenging subjects, reinforces our efforts to motivate students.

In 2024, we are privileged to have a team of passionate educators who genuinely revel in Mathematics and strive to inspire the same enthusiasm in their students. Success is a combination of qualified educators, an inclusive curriculum that tailors teaching to address individual learning needs, effective preparation through extended courses, strong student engagement and parental support. By prioritising personal success in learning we aim to inspire and empower our students to excel in mathematics, paving the way for a brighter future in this essential field.


[ii] https://v9.australiancurriculu...

Subscribe to our newsletter