There are such schools here in post-Soviet Union countries where they teach math intensively, say, at least 1 lesson per day. Here we call them specialized schools.
They can have a different profile, say foreign languages or sports.

What do you call this phenomenon? How can I explain that I'd like to send my son to a 'specialized math' school rather than a 'default' neighborhood school? Will 'specialized math' school sound OK? If not, what's a better name for it?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    1 lesson per day for a given subject is "intensive?" – TypeIA Dec 19 '19 at 7:05
  • What school level are we talking about here? Elementary/primary, high school/secondary, college/university? – TypeIA Dec 19 '19 at 7:08
  • At least one per day, and often more. I meant secondary/high school – Natalia Koulinkovitch Dec 19 '19 at 7:19
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    I would say 'a school that specialises in maths'. (You use the American math in your heading, but the British maths in the body of the question!) – Kate Bunting Dec 19 '19 at 9:39
  • @KateBunting You got great eyes! – AIQ Dec 19 '19 at 9:56

In the UK, we currently refer to secondary schools that specialise in a particular subject as an academy, although this has other implications as well.

For example, a Performing Arts Academy is a school that teaches all subjects, but has facilities and a particular focus on performing arts. Other schools in my personal area that have been academised include the specialised subjects of "leadership" and "sports". Around the country there are various others. Other institutions that teach just one subject, either as an extra-curricular activity for school-age children or as a form of non-advanced education for adults may also be called an "academy".

There are schools of mathematics, or "mathematic schools" in the UK, but these appear to be higher education (eg tertiary education, post-grad etc). As mathematics is a compulsory subject in all UK secondary schools, I would not expect a state school at that level to specialise in it, although I cannot be authoratitive on that.

This may be different in other English-speaking countries.


The usual solution to problems of "too many adjectives and pre-modifiers" is to use a relative clause.

English usually puts adjectives before the noun, so "specialized school" is good. But "specialized maths school" or is awkward: its not clear if specialized is modifying "maths" or "school".

Relative clauses can be much "heavier", you can put a preposition to indicate the relationship that "maths" has. If you have adjective that is formed as a participle, consider using it as the verb in a relative clause:

Using "default" is okay, but "the local school" probably means the same, or it may be more natural to use the particular school name. (If I recall, Russian schools tend to be numbered rather than named)

I want to send my daughter to a school that specialises in maths, rather than School 10.

(A small historical aside) Now there is an compound phrase "Mathematics specialist school", in England (not even the UK) from an old government initiative to create specialised schools, but this refers to a particular scheme (that doesn't even exist anymore). At one point, about 15 years ago, nearly all schools picked a "specialism" because the government was offering extra money. Some might still use the term in advertising (even though the scheme has ended)

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