The RSS ran a successful third Scholars Event on 7 May at the International Society in Manchester.
Scholars events are for recipients of the Maths teacher training scholarships, which are awarded each year to outstanding candidates training to be maths teachers. As well as the £25k bursary, the scholars have access to CPD training events run by maths education specialists. This particular event saw a lively and enthusiastic group of current and previous scholars in attendance. The agenda for the day focused on approaches to teaching statistics at post GCSE level in the classroom.
Scott Keir, head of education at the RSS, welcomed people to the event and explained how the RSS supports teachers through its e-Teacher membership, the Global Learning Programme for schools, the Maths teacher training scholarships, the William Guy Lecture and other resources.
The morning was then focused on the new Core Maths qualification. Sue Pope of Manchester Metropolitan University and chair of the Core Maths Support Programme advisory board, provided an illuminating introduction. She started by outlining the current government’s determination to increase the proportion of young people studying mathematics post-16. Currently, around 65% of students in England achieve a Grade C or better in mathematics but only 15% of students go on to study maths at 16-19. This is known as the ‘maths-gap’ and the UK currently compares unfavourably with other countries when it comes to numeracy at university level. A number of studies have shown that so many students dropping maths this early could have significant consequences for our future ability to tap the potential of 'big data'.
The delegates then participated in a series of practical teaching examples relating to the new Core Maths syllabus, led by two leads in this area, Steve Nixon of Priestly College in Warrington and Iram Hussain of Sir John Deane's College, Northwick. The examples used included estimating the likelihood of having a disease; how much tax an individual pays and Fermi estimation (resources around financial calculations can be found here).
All the delegates were able to network in the sunshine over lunch before returning to an afternoon facilitated by Neil Sheldon (pictured), RSS vice president for education and statistical literacy. He gave an introduction regarding many of the main themes within statistical thinking and demonstrated how to use software to develop statistical understanding through the three ‘R’s - randomisation, replication and re-sampling.
Feedback from those attending said they 'Found out loads about core maths’ and would ‘definitely be using Core Maths tasks with my KS3 and 4 classes’. Participants also talked about how they might approach stats teaching, how concepts might be introduced by discussing data first and how software might broaden students’ knowledge of statistics.
The RSS supports the Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarship programme, which supports individuals with high mathematical and statistical skills to train as secondary mathematics teachers in England. To find out more about the scheme, including how to apply, visit the Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarship website.