There is a British Culture of “I am no good at maths” being seen as a badge of honour for girls. This seriously hampers educational achievement and consequently has a detrimental, knock-on effect for British industry.
In 2009 , Shirley Conran founded Maths Action, to focus on teenage girls who didn’t like maths and improve their mathematical ability.
As the mathematical standard of girls has started to improve, the Maths action committee decided to focus on a larger problem : the large number of children and adults who have Maths Anxiety , which will hamper their earning ability, spending ability and reduce their self confidence. The name of the organisation, Maths Action, has now been changed to The Maths Anxiety Trust. The Committee remains the same, with the new additions below.
The damaging attitude of being content to be bad at maths is still far more prevalent among girls than among boys, and it hampers their future life and earning ability.
The root of the problem is the negative attitude to maths of many teenage girls and their family; as our tests show, this attitude can be changed cheaply by a school, in under two hours.
We have researched and developed a simple maths career guidance plan for girls in Year Nine who do not intend to study maths after GCSE. It is a simple, cheap, tested solution that can be actioned by any school in Britain.
Career guidance is now the legal responsibility of every school and all students – whatever subject they intend to focus on – need to realise that Maths is an essential tool for modern life and cannot simply be dumped when they leave school.
Here we provide the skeleton plan, from which a school can develop its own agenda, perhaps based on that school’s Awards Day.
We also provide two e-booklets: The Fear Factor shows the historical reasons for girls and women to hold a negative attitude to Maths. What’s It Got To Do With Me? shows the results of a survey held at Langley Park school for girls (1700 pupils) which shows current student attitudes to Maths, both in Year Nine and in Year Twelve (Sixth Form) and also reports on a discussion held among maths teachers.
THE MATHS ANXIETY TEAM
Shirley Conran OBE, Hon Fellow UCL, writer, designer and social entrepreneur, Shirley was an editor on The Observer and The Daily Mail. Her international best-selling books include Superwoman, Lace and Money Stuff, a FREE interactive, ebook maths course for girls, that does not need a teacher. Voluntary projects include founding Mothers in Management, founding charity The Work-Life Balance Trust, and founding Maths Action. 2014-17 she was an adviser to the Department for Education on the retention of teenage girls the further study of Mathematics.
Photo credit: Andrew Crowley
Lindsay Nicholson, mathematician, astrophysicist,who for 20 years was editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping.
Keith Pledger, former Chair of Examiners at Edexcel, where he had responsibility for all GCSE mathematics exams to the Board.
Emeritus Professor Margaret Brown, OBE, a former President of the Mathematical Association and former adviser to the Government on the Mathematical Curriculum and an advisor to the Science Museum.
Jerry Jarvis, Chair of Maths Anxiety, is an engineer with a long history in business transformation, describing himself as a disrupter. However it was as Managing Director of Edexcel and BTEC that he made a telling impact on UK education, driving Edexcel into one of the most successful organisations in the country. Michael Gove credited him with transforming the failing exam system. Through Jerry Jarvis Limited he now works across a broad spectrum of emerging education entities and technology businesses.
Caroline Schott, Chief Executive of the Learning Skills Foundation. Caroline’s early career was in the music and theatre business where she was a concert promoter and producer. When she became a mother, Caroline realised how important it is to teach children “How to Learn” not just “What to Learn”. In 2006, Caroline Shott, Sir Brian and Lady Tovey founded The Learning Skills Foundation to focus on new scientific developments in learning, and to share these with the leaders of the teaching profession.
Dr Anne Hudson, PhD. Head teacher at Langley Park School for Girls, Bromley (1,700) 2011-20018, after six years as Head of Central Foundation Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets. She has taught in six other schools, five of them in inner London. Dr Hudson, who holds a doctorate in Education, is deeply committed to empowering
Diane Carrington, M.Sc. PGCE. Chair of the Board of Governors at Langley Park School for Girls. Diane is a former teacher.
Diane is author of Maths Action Report: What’s It Got To Do With Me?
Dr Samantha Callan, MTh, PhD. A Cambridge-educated social anthropologist, Samantha was Associate Director for Families and Mental Health at the influential Westminster-based think-tank, The Centre for Social Justice. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Samantha advises the Government, other politicians and policy-makers, and contributes to parliamentary and media debates on improving young people’s chances in life.
Samantha is author of Maths Action Report: The Fear Factor.