RSS to help deliver new maths teacher training scholarships

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Around 150 new teacher training scholarships in mathematics, worth £20,000 each, are to be made available as part of a wider government strategy designed to drive up standards in mathematics in schools.
 
The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) will help deliver the scholarships along with the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) and the London Mathematical Society (LMS).
 
Graduates with a 2:1 or above degree on a postgraduate mathematics initial teacher training (ITT) course will be eligible to apply, and candidates will be expected to have a strong mathematical background and a commitment to education and teaching. As well as £20,000, mathematics ITT scholars will receive additional benefits from the IMA, LMS, and RSS including membership offers, free access to journals, free entry to conferences and training and career support.
 
The RSS believes the benefits of the new scholarships will be wide-reaching. ‘Getting the best people into teaching mathematics and statistics in schools is a crucial step in helping children to develop the analytical and numerical skills they need for further academic study and exciting careers in a whole range of areas,’ says RSS president Valerie Isham. ‘Inspirational teachers can provide motivation, insight and enthusiasm. Statistical literacy is an essential life skill: the need to make decisions based on numerical data confronts us all in every aspect of our professional and personal lives.’
 
The maths scholarships will sit alongside those for physics, chemistry, and computer science in 2013/14, and form part of a range of government initiatives designed to boost mathematics in schools. Others include funding for mathematics professional development for primary, secondary and post-16 teachers, through the National Centre for the Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM); the launch of a specialist mathematics programme for primary teachers; and supporting specialist mathematics free schools for 16-18 year olds.
 
Applications for the scholarships will open in January 2013. Graduates interested in applying can register online at www.ima.org.uk/careers/teacher_scholarships.cfm
 
 

Happy New International Year of Statistics!

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

The New Year marks the start of Statistics2013, the International Year of Statistics – a worldwide celebration and recognition of the contributions of statistical science.
 
 
The aim of Statistics2013 is to promote the importance of statistics to the broader scientific community, business and government data users, the media, policy makers, employers, students, and the general public. Its goals also include nurturing statistics as a profession, especially among young people.
 
An ever-increasing list of organisations are now participating in the International Year of Statistics.  Last week, the number of countries participating reached 105, with more than 1,350 participating organisations. The list of participating organisations is published here.
 
Former RSS president, Denise Lievesley, is representing the Society on the International Year of Statistics steering committee, together with 2013 Council member Rob Mastrodomenico.  The RSS will be promoting Statistics2013 through its getstats campaign, Significance magazine and the regular events it will be running through the year, including our regular meetings, the Cathie Marsh Lecture in November and of course, the RSS annual conference, which this year is taking place in Newcastle in September.   We will also be hosting an international event at the RSS in Errol Street in the autumn to celebrate Statistics2013.
 
The Steering Committee welcomes all interested parties to participate in Statistics2013. A flyer is available for distribution, and the organisation encourages the widespread distribution of the Statistics2013.org URL.
 
Recently Statistics2013 also released a video to commemorate the launch (see above).
 

Statisticians celebrated in 2013 New Year Honours

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Renowned statisticians Ian Diamond, Frank Kelly and David Hand are all candidates in the New Year Honours list for 2013 – the International Year of Statistics.
 
The annual list, which recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the UK, this year recommended 1,223 people to the Queen for an award.
 
A knighthood was awarded to Ian Diamond, former chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (2003 to 2010) and current principal and vice-chancellor at the University of Aberdeen. The renowned social statistician was hailed for his ‘world class reputation in the field of social statistics’ and his ‘an outstanding contribution to leading the UK social science research community’.
 
Former RSS president David Hand was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to research and innovation. Now emeritus professor of mathematics at Imperial College, London, David has won various prizes and awards for his research, including the Guy medal in silver (2002) from the Royal Statistical Society. He has served on the statistics advisory boards of GSK and AstraZeneca, and is currently chief scientific advisor to Winton Capital Management and a member of the UK Statistics Authority Committee for Official Statistics.
 
Frank Kelly,  professor of the mathematics of systems at the University of Cambridge, was honoured in the Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) list for services to mathematical sciences. Another Guy medallist (in silver, awarded in 1989), Frank served as chief scientific adviser to the Department for Transport, and chairs the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, of which the RSS is a founding member.
 
This year, science and technology made up 2.5% per cent of the New Year Honours list of awards. Other high-profile candidates include Professor Peter Higgs (of Higgs boson fame), Margaret Beckett, Kate Bush, Ewan McGregor, Olympians Bradley Wiggins and Ben Ainslie, and Paralympian Sarah Storey.
 

ONS website criticised in PASC inquiry

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

The website of the Office for National Statistics has been widely criticised by MPs, journalists and users of official statistics, in a parliamentary inquiry looking into the way statistics are communicated.
 
 
The Royal Statistical Society submitted written evidence, as did its Statistics User Forum. The RSS acknowledged that although improvements have been made regarding the communication of statistics, ‘more effort is needed’. The Statistics User Forum commented that ‘priorities are skewed too much towards producing statistics rather than communicating and providing access to them.’
 
The RSS suggested that the ONS website should explain ‘in plain language’ issues that surround the data, such as seasonal adjustments, limitations of the data or margins for error. ‘Educating journalists, reporters and others in the media is of particular importance,’ it added.
 
UK Statistics Authority chair Andrew Dilnot and National Statistician Jil Matheson gave evidence on December 12, 2012 before the committee. The ONS website was described as ‘awful’ by MPs at the hearing and particular criticism was directed at its search function. Andrew Dilnot admitted that the site’s relaunch in August 2012 ‘was not one of our greatest moments’. He did, however, insist that ‘a lot of progress has been made’ in recent times and that improvements would continue to be made (as explained on the ONS website).
 
Jil Matheson acknowledged that meeting the needs of both casual and expert users was not an easy task, and that understanding these needs were part of an ongoing development programme.
 
Meanwhile, a fifth inquiry into official statistics – this time looking specifically at migration statistics – has been launched. The deadline for submitting written evidence is noon on Tuesday 22 January 2013 and the RSS is currently formulating its response.
 
The remaining five inquiries relating to statistics are to examine the following topics and will be carried out in due course:
 
  • Transparency, open data and statistics
     
  • The Census
     
  • Budgeting for statistics across Government
     
  • Statistics for the economy and public finances
     
  • The comprehensiveness of official statistics

 

John Pullinger is the new RSS president

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

As of midnight, January 1, 2013, president-elect John Pullinger takes on the role of president of the Royal Statistical Society, a post he will hold for two years until the end of 2014.
 
John says: ‘I have always been inspired by the story of the Society. I feel greatly honoured to have become president. I want to dedicate my term in office to highlighting the impact that statistics and statisticians have in education, the media, business, politics and in people’s everyday lives so that others too can be inspired by what we do.’ He adds: ‘If you have a statistical story you think deserves wider attention, please let me know.’
 
John Pullinger has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of statistics. He is the current House of Commons Librarian and a member of the House of Commons Board of Management. Prior to that he was an executive director at the Office for National Statistics.
 
John has developed close working relationships across the profession through the RSS and through associations with statisticians in several universities including Manchester, Essex and Leeds. Internationally, he has represented the UK at the statistical forums of the United Nations, Commonwealth, OECD and the European Union. He has also chaired many of the Government Statistical Service committees charged with developing the UK statistical programme.
 
An active member of the RSS, John has been a member of council since 2008. He has also chaired the Society’s National Statistics Working Party and currently chairs the board for the Society’s ongoing getstats campaign.
 
John’s career began in official statistics after graduating from the University of Exeter. He worked in the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of the Environment and the Office of Manpower Economics, before moving to the Office for National Statistics to lead the UK’s census programme, heading the Economic and Social Reporting Directorate.
 
He has been the librarian at the House of Commons for the last eight years and is also president of the parliamentary section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the global voice of the library and information profession.
 
A more detailed biography of John will be published in the next edition of RSS News.
 

Mathematics teaching scholarships: assessors required

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

The Royal Statistical Society, the Institute of Mathematics and its Application (IMA) and the London Mathematical Society (LMS) are looking for assessors to help select the best candidates for the new Mathematics Teaching Scholarships recently announced by the Department for Education.
 
The RSS, IMA and LMA are collaborating to deliver around 150 scholarships of £20,000 to the most promising maths teachers of the future.
 
As well as a first/upper secondary degree and appropriate mathematical knowledge and skills, scholarship applicants will be expected to value the subject and understand its major importance to the UK economy and make a commitment to teaching in England. Applications are open from 21 January 2013 on the IMA website.
 
Appropriately skilled individuals will be needed to assist with the selection process, for which payment will be available. The selection process will comprise submission of a short video, attendance at a regional assessment centre made up of a discussion group and written mathematical tests and finally a formal interview.
 
Anyone interested in participating in the assessment process can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.
 

RPI unchanged but new index introduced

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

The national statistician, Jil Matheson, has recommended that the formulae used to produce the RPI (Retail Prices Index) should remain unchanged, despite stating that one of the arithmetic average formulae used (the Carli)  does not meet international standards.
 
Jil Matheson cited the ‘significant value to users in maintaining the continuity of the existing RPI’s long time series’ and recommended that RPI continue unchanged so that it can continue to be used for long-term indexation and for index-linked gilts and bonds.
 
Explaining that the arithmetic formulation in question would not have been chosen were the Office for National Statistics (ONS)  constructing a new price index, Matheson also announced that a new index, the RPI-J, would be published as of March 2013. The RPI-J will use a geometric formulation, known as the ‘Jevons’ formula, for items where the ‘Carli’ is currently used (around 27% of the total).
 
The announcement follows a consultation launched last year to specifically address the gap between the estimates produced by the RPI and the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).
 
The national statistician also made it clear that the ONS will continue to pursue its research programme in the area of consumer price statistics working with users. This has been particularly welcomed by the RSS in its response to the announcement. The ONS has been carrying out an extensive research programme into the issue since 2011 and the RSS feels it is particularly important that this continues, stating: ‘The formula effect generally, and particularly in the case of clothing, is dependent not just on the choice of index but also on the characteristics of the price movements and levels being measured, sample design, choice of base period and price collection methods.’
 
The RSS also welcomes the UK Statistics Authority decision to review the governance arrangements and structures supporting the production of price indices to ensure that these statistics best meet user needs in the future.
 
The national statistician has also recommended that an alternative data source be used to measure private housing rents from February 2013 RPI indices (published on 19 March 2013). This change is subject to consultation with the Bank of England and the chancellor of the exchequer.
 

 
Reactions to the announcement (added 15 January 2013)
 
The announcement was a surprise to many commentators, some of whom acknowledged the benefit of keeping RPI the same. In his Financial Times column, David Keohane wrote that the decision was ‘an understandable one, if only because consistency has a definite and obvious merit.’
 
The move was also welcomed by those in the pensions sector. Ian Cowie, head of personal finance at the Telegraph, commented: ‘The ONS has demonstrated its independence and delivered good news for private sector pensioners. This should also be a good day for the price of linkers in the bond markets.’
 
However, there have also been critics. Stephanie Flanders, economics editor at the BBC commented: ‘Britain’s Office for National Statistics has decided, when it comes to inflation, it’s better to be consistent than to be right.’
 
Chris Giles, economics editor of the Financial Times and who serves on the Consumer Prices Advisory Committee, was also disappointed by the announcement. ‘This decision means the UK remains with a central statistical measure that is deficient.’ he remarked in his column.
 

Join the RSS

Join the RSS

Become part of an organisation which works to advance statistics and support statisticians

Copyright 2019 Royal Statistical Society. All Rights Reserved.
12 Errol Street, London, EC1Y 8LX. UK registered charity in England and Wales. No.306096

Twitter Facebook YouTube RSS feed RSS feed RSS newsletter

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies and Terms of Use.