And yet, in the advisory committee for mathematics education’s (ACME) report into the nation’s maths needs, published last month, evidence from both industry and universities showed that young people embarking on careers or higher education in numerate subjects are often ill-equipped to cope with the mathematical demands placed upon them, because they did not learn sufficient mathematics at school. This lack of mathematical knowledge and fluency is expensive to put right and hinders economic progress.
Careers in economics, finance, engineering and science are all underpinned by mathematics, and we need more highly qualified young people in these areas to help increase the competitiveness of our economy.
As David Willetts, the universities minister, has said: “In terms of future job and career opportunities, A-Level Maths scores more highly than just about anything else.”
But still we are the only developed country in the world where most young people drop mathematics at age 16.
To change this, we must increase the numbers of young people learning mathematics beyond the basic level studied at GCSE. This means more young people must be inspired to choose to study mathematics to a higher level in school or college, and more school and college teachers must be trained to teach effectively at this level.
Through our government-funded Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP), MEI, the small independent charity that I run, we have proved we can do both of these things effectively, while delivering excellent value for money. However, to meet the scale of the challenge and increase our capacity we need more funding.
Michael Gove, the education secretary, said of the FMSP in a speech at the Royal Society last month: “Their budget last year was a paltry £1.5m – small change for the City – but with this tiny budget they have had enormous success.”
He added: “I have teamed up with City A.M. to make an appeal to financial institutions in the City – put some of your profits into supporting the FMSP over the long-term, and ideally make it financially secure and not dependent on the temporary and easily lost affection of politicians.”
That’s why MEI, backed by City A.M, is calling for your donations. So please support our campaign and help provide a more effective workforce for the future.
To find out more about the work we do and to donate contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie Stripp is chief executive of MEI