The Foundation has been funding mathematics initiatives since 1991 when it awarded £750,000 to the Royal
Institution towards its masterclass programme. The decision to set up a programme in Mathematics education in 2007 was based on research which showed that the numbers of students opting to take A level maths was falling, and that there was a growing shortage of suitably qualified maths teachers. A further reason for supporting mathematics was that, despite the fact that it underpins several other disciplines, including science, engineering, technology and finance, it was relatively underfunded.
The Mathematics initiative aimed to increase the number of pupils studying maths post-16, and to improve the learning experience of maths pupils at secondary level.
We have funded more than 15 projects which focussed in one or more of the following areas: enrichment and enhancement activities for pupils to encourage study at a higher level; continuing professional development for teachers, including new and innovative approaches, to enthuse and motivate teachers and pupils; and research into curriculum-related issues.
For interactive lectures for 15-17 year olds at venues across the UK;
For events to engage pupils aged 14-16 and to encourage them to take maths at A or AS level;
At the University of Cambridge to develop and implement key training and resource materials for secondary pupils, alongside a related programme of continuing professional development for teachers;
For bursaries for A level pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to improve their maths skills via weekend workshops and summer schools;
To undertake research into the mathematical needs of key stakeholders.
An external evaluation of the Mathematics initiative found that the enrichment and enhancement activities had been appreciated by participating students, and that they were likely to have influenced longer-term attitudes to mathematics, competence in mathematics and choices to continue to study mathematics.
It also found that projects had, in the main, had a considerable positive impact on the teachers involved; and that our funding had contributed significantly to producing high quality resources, including on-line resources, for students and teachers.
The evaluation concluded that the Mathematics initiative had been welcomed by the maths education community and that our grants had made a positive impact.
The Mathematics initiative concluded at the end of 2011 and we no longer fund work in this area.
Photos: all StemNRICH - Nigel Luckhurst, University of Cambridge