Why are we doing this?
In the UK, particularly in England, a high-stakes accountability education system puts great emphasis on the academic attainment of a young person, however there is growing demand from educators, employers and young people for the system to pay more attention to skills development. Research by the Durham Commission has made the case for more support and funding for creativity in education, including for digital creative skills that employers need. A report by Nesta on collaborative problem-solving made the case for greater focus and resource to be put into problem-solving across the curriculum, including in maths.
Many countries are finding innovative ways to develop skills like creativity and problem-solving, supporting teachers to test out new methods, build rigorous assessment tools and embed such work in the curriculum. Across the UK education system opportunities for young people to apply their learning from academic subjects to develop skills and tackle real-world issues can be limited.
We believe that maths and computer science are subjects that are vital to the future, while also being areas where more can be done to give young people opportunities to be creative and solve problems in the context of real-world problems and consequently engage a broader range of young people.
Through these awards Nesta aims to:
- Reward and celebrate the great work of teachers and teaching assistants.
- Better understand how teachers and teaching assistants are giving young people the opportunity to be creative and solve problems in maths and computer science.
- Share this understanding and the bright ideas unearthed by the awards with other educators.
What are we doing?
We have awarded 15 UK secondary maths and computer science teachers or teaching assistants £5,000 each to recognise their work. The £5,000 will be awarded to schools and colleges to further their maths and computer science programmes.
We awarded teachers or teaching assistants who have developed and tried out an idea in their classroom which aims to give young people the opportunity to solve problems and/or be creative in maths or computer science.
We were particularly keen to hear from applicants whose idea also connects maths or computer science to real-world problems and aims to inspire a diverse range of students to engage with and enjoy these subjects.
Please find further details in the selection criteria.
What is Nesta’s history in this area?
Nesta has run a number of awards programmes to celebrate practitioners who are innovating in their work. Most recently Nesta launched Democracy Pioneers, an award programme for up to 10 innovations that are experimenting with ways to re-energise civic participation and everyday democracy in the UK. In 2018 Nesta ran the Good Help Awards programme which aimed to discover examples of “good help” from across the UK.
Nesta has a history of scaling innovations which aim to improve young people’s skills including social and emotional skills through a grant funding programme the Future Ready Fund and young people’s maths and problem-solving skills through the Maths Mission partnership with Tata.
In addition, Nesta has a long history of involvement with computer science, having supported initiatives around encouraging young people to learn coding and being successful in calling for government to get programming and computer science added to the curriculum through the influential Next Gen report.