Youngest son came home a couple of weeks ago very pleased with himself, and announced that he had been invited "as one of the best mathematicians in the year" to take part in "some [external] Maths thing", and that he had told them he would go. We’re fairly accustomed to this sort of thing - despite apparently not qualifying as "Gifted and Talented", all three of them have on various occasions been invited to take part in external maths/science/computing things as one of the top ten or so in their year group - so I just congratulated him and put the date in the diary.

Yesterday I finally received the official email telling me about this outing. It confirms that only ten students have been selected (out of about 150 in the year group), but it is the stated purpose of the day that took me by surprise:

"...to encourage interest in Maths with a view to studying it at ‘A’ Level and beyond."

Well. This is a child whose parents and eldest brother muster between them - amongst other things - one Maths degree, five Maths ‘A’ Levels and a Further Maths ‘AS’ Level. And his other brother is in Year 12 currently working towards a Maths ‘A’ Level and a Further Maths ‘AS’.

This is seriously not a student who needs the idea of doing Maths at ‘A’ Level bringing to his attention. In our family the idea of

*not*doing it would be more thought-provoking, and certainly at this stage youngest son is taking it completely for granted that at the end of next year he will go on to do Maths at ‘A’ Level. (I should clarify here that we listen[ed] with interest to thoughts on which ‘A’ Levels they want[ed] to do, but absolutely do not attempt to tell them which ones they "should" do.)

So while I’m obviously pleased on youngest son’s account for the recognition and the hopefully-interesting day out, and I'm definitely not going to stop him going, it strikes me that there must surely be more "deserving" candidates for this trip. For example students who are very good at Maths, but whose families are Arty and would find the idea of doing Maths ‘A’ Level as disturbing and "unsafe", if I can put it that way, as we find the idea of not doing it.