Published on 23/05/2024
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Aston University Mathematics School appoints first headteacher
Professor Aleks Subic, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University & Francis Goodburn
  • Aston University Mathematics School will be the maths school for the West Midlands
  • Francis Goodburn, who currently works at Lancaster University School of Mathematics, will be the founding headteacher
  • The school is due to open its doors in September 2025.

Aston University Mathematics School (AUMS) has announced the appointment of its founding headteacher. The school will benefit from Aston University’s academic expertise in applied maths, computer science and digital technologies. 

Opening its doors in September 2025, the school has appointed Francis Goodburn, who is currently the deputy headteacher at Lancaster University School of Mathematics. Lancaster was one of the first universities in the country to establish a maths school along with King’s College London, the University of Exeter and the University of Liverpool.

In March 2024, it was revealed that Aston University had been chosen to open a prestigious mathematics school for 16- to 19-year-olds in Birmingham. AUMS will be the mathematics school for the West Midlands, as part of the government’s commitment to have one in each region.

Francis has extensive experience in school leadership, having worked as head of mathematics, designated safeguarding lead and special educational needs co-ordinator in previous roles. He is also an accomplished teacher of mathematics and computer science.

He is a committed advocate for education as a vehicle for social mobility, stemming from his own experience. Raised in a single-parent family and receiving free school meals, he excelled academically, completing eight A levels at a comprehensive school in Yorkshire. He went on to study mathematics and computer science at the University of Oxford. In addition, he was awarded a university organ scholarship based on his musical ability. Organ scholars are talented students who develop their skills as performing musicians alongside their university studies. They are appointed by colleges to play the organ for chapel services and to direct or assist in the work of the choir.

After leaving university, he worked as a child protection social worker for several years, before entering the teaching profession.

Francis said: “It is the privilege of a lifetime to have been appointed as the founding headteacher of Aston University Mathematics School.

“I am clear about our mission: to transform the lives of talented young mathematicians and scientists across the West Midlands, whatever their background. AUMS will do this not only through the enriched and rigorous curriculum our school will offer its students, but also through our community outreach work targeting disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.”

Professor Aleks Subic, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University said: “I would like to congratulate Francis on his new role and welcome him to Aston University Mathematics School. 

"The school will help address the shortages of highly skilled graduates in sectors that depend on mathematical skills. These include areas within engineering, science and technology, including data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity.

“As well as tackling the skills shortage the school will offer specialist training to talented students from across the region, supporting Aston University’s commitment to combining excellence and widening participation.”
“I look forward to Francis leading the school towards great success in the future.”

The aim of AUMS is to identify and select from a wide range of backgrounds the most able mathematicians, scientists, engineers and technologists of the future, who will thrive in an academically challenging university-style environment. It will be the only school of its kind in the West Midlands and will initially recruit 75 students from across the region. The school plans to grow to 200 students by its third year of operation. 

Learners who apply for a place at the school will be chosen on the basis of a mathematical assessment and interview. If successful, they will be given a conditional offer based on their GCSE results.

One of the principal aims of the school is to widen participation in the mathematical sciences across the West Midlands. In addition to working with their own pupils, maths schools undertake significant outreach work with those in surrounding schools and colleges, giving priority to traditionally underrepresented groups, such as students in receipt of pupil premium funding and girls.

The mathematicians and scientists educated at AUMS will help address regional and national shortages of highly skilled graduates in sectors that depend on mathematical skills. These include areas within engineering, science and technology, including data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity. 

Located in the city centre, AUMS is next to the Aston University campus and its sister school, Aston University Engineering Academy. Executive Principal, Daniel Locke-Wheaton who is helping to set up AUMS, said: “We are creating an outstanding sixth form school and that requires an outstanding headteacher.

“During the recruitment process, Francis stood out as an exemplary candidate. His expertise in teaching, pastoral care and mathematics will help him create a learning environment that equips pupils with the necessary skills to thrive and be fully prepared for their next steps – be that undergraduate study, employment, or a degree apprenticeship.”

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Notes to editors

About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.
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