The Importance of Workplace Mathematics

Questions continue to be raised about the teaching and learning of mathematics in schools and colleges and the levels of participation in the subject post-16. Questions continue to arise about its purpose and centrality in the schools national curriculum and the introduction of functional mathematics in vocational awards. In addition, concerns are being raised about the quality and quantity of students entering further and higher education to study courses that require mathematics such as plumbing. We live in a technological society based on mathematics and science, so it is concerning that schools, colleges and universities continue to turn out students


Among the critical and pivotal elements in tackling the major and continuing challenges to improve skills and increase productivity, are the persistent problems associated in mathematical capability. Low levels of numeracy and functional numeracy including among adults who wish to enter employment continue to be a problem. These problems have been highlighted over many decades by innumerable commissions, reports and research papers. A multitude of causes have been identified including: • Gender issues • Low levels of motivation • Bad previous learning/teaching experiences • The perception amongst learners that mathematics is intrinsically difficult • The impact of negative parental, societal

The Mathematics Problem [Part 2]

DR RICHARD EVANS CONTINUES TO EXPLORE THE DIFFERENT FACTORS THAT CAN CAUSE DIFFICULTY WHEN IT COMES TO UTILISING MATHEMATICAL KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS WITHIN THE WORK ENVIRONMENT. IN THE SECOND PART OF THIS FEATURE, THE FACILITATION OF TEACHING AND LEARNING THROUGH THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT IS DISCUSSED. In (part one of this article](/2011/04/the-mathematics-problem) (published in the April/May 2011 issue), I identified some of the problems related to mathematics and numeracy in our education system. However, perhaps it is too simplistic just to view the negative perception towards the subject in terms of a series of causes and effects. If the problem is

The Mathematics Problem

THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF MATHEMATICS AND NUMERACY AT ALL STAGES OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING CONTINUES TO CAUSE CONCERN IN MANY COUNTRIES IN EUROPE. DR RICHARD EVANS DISCUSSES IN DETAIL, IN THE FIRST ARTICLE OF A TWO PART SERIES. The teaching of mathematics and numeracy, at all levels of education, is one cause of concern in many countries in Europe, and Malta is no exception. The problems precipitate a series of worrying issues namely: A generally negative perception of these subjects amongst learners in school, college and university. Low participation levels post 16 in subjects that

Issues Associated with the Teaching of Mathematics

Richard Evans is concerned about the quality of new maths teachers. A recent feature in the Observer (1) highlighted some of the consequences of the current recession namely the migration of people from the private sector in areas such as banking, IT, PR executives and journalism into teaching. 13,500 career changers have applied for teacher training programmes – this represents a 35% increase over the past year. Coupled with more applications from graduates this has made entering teaching a more competitive activity. So how does this increased flow of teachers align with the impending massive cuts in the public services?

Teacher Shortages Revisited

Richard Evans returns to his theme of teacher shortages and what can be done It’s been said before but here is my take on the current situation. It’s a case of good and bad news. First the good news: the government seems to have recognised the long standing crisis associated with the supply of teachers in mathematics and numeracy both in terms of quantity and quality. The bad news is that there is continuing difficulty in significantly increasing the flow of qualified teachers let alone retaining the stock of both new and experienced teachers. To highlight the paucity of thinking

Financial Literacy –a Personal View

Dick Evans asks questions about financial literacy as a separate subject. Concerns about financial literacy, capability and awareness continue to be very prominent. Numeracy Briefing has carried a series of highly informative articles on the topic. In spite of all the existing initiatives and key organisations involved in addressing this important topic the government has appointed yet another person who has come up with set of proposals to tackle this problem. Obviously there are concerns about the credit crunch and a personal debt level in the UK of £1.2 trillion (50% on mortgages and 50% on pension funds, corporate, credit

Gender and Mathematics.

Dick Evans explores the impact of gender difference on mathematical performance. Whilst writing the articles on ‘Mathematics – Why the problem’! (Numeracy Briefing issues 9 and 10) I became aware that the interacting factors that created the negative view of the subject could reflect the widely-held perception that females perform less well than the males. This view has generated a popular stereotype that the women and girls are not good at the maths. Research. A considerable amount of research has been carried out in this area from analysis of basic international statistics on numbers of females and males studying mathematics

Mathematics – What’s the Problem?

Richard Evans continues his exploration of the reasons behind negative attitudes to maths in the UK Since writing the last article (Numeracy Briefing Issue 9) on the possible factors that could contribute to the reluctance by many people to study mathematics and other mathematically-related subjects, I have reflected more on the potential interplay of the factors identified in that article. Perhaps it is too simplistic just to view the negative perception towards the subject in terms of a series of causes and effects. If the problem is about the formation of negative attitudes towards the subject then this must be

Functional Mathematics – A Context?

Richard Evans is concerned that functional maths is being distorted by a plethora of other developments Any discussion of functional mathematics must now be informed by the recent White Paper “Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances”, The Leitch Report and the reforms associated with the development of specialised diplomas and the Framework for Achievement (FfA). Specialised Diplomas. The development of the specialised diplomas highlights the current chaotic state in government thinking with a ridiculously early deadline being set for the introduction of the first five pilot programmes next year. Critical elements of the proposed framework are still unclear and/or are still