Why are we doing this?
It is well-known that the skills needed for the future world of work will be different to today, as Nesta’s 2017 report The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030 explored.
Although there is a level of uncertainty around these future needs, there is strong evidence that maths skills and collaborative problem-solving will be particularly important.
The World Economic Forum has made the case for a range of skills that will be increasingly important in the future job market, that include collaboration and problem-solving. Our report Solved! Making the case for collaborative problem-solving, published last year, explored how the UK can better equip young people with this skill set.
It is also widely agreed that maths skills are, and will continue to be, crucial for individuals to be successful in the world of work. Andreas Schleicher of the OECD has made the powerful case that “good numeracy is the best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health.”
One of the major obstacles to maths and problem solving attainment is attitude – the belief that ‘some people just can’t do maths’. This limiting belief, which is prevalent in the UK, can encourage young people do disengage from an early age.
As a nation, the UK is not as good at maths as we should be. Maths is the foundation of learning and achievement in science, technology and engineering, yet UK teenagers are ranked just 27th in the OECD's global tests when it comes to their maths skills, a fall from 26th in 2012. We also know that more than one million new engineers are needed by 2020 simply to meet current industry demand, and 50 per cent more STEM graduates will be needed just to maintain the status quo.
What are we doing?
Tata, in partnership with Nesta, is running a series of pilot programmes across England to find the most effective ways to increase young people’s interest in maths, and improve their maths and collaborative problem-solving skills. The Maths Mission pilots will run through the academic year 2017-2018.
The aim is to change attitudes and increase attainment in maths, promoting the subject as a practical, engaging and problem-solving tool.
Tata and Nesta is working together to implement the following Maths Mission pilots:
- Cracking the Code: an open youth challenge centred around ‘escape-rooms’ aimed at changing student’s perception of maths, through classroom experiences, live events and collaborative group-work;
- Solving together: using parental SMS messaging to improve maths problem solving, working with the Behavioural Insights Team;
- Young maths mentors: developing pupil maths and peer mentoring skills in schools, working with both Funkey Maths and Franklin Scholars.
The Maths Mission pilots are focused on nurturing an interest in - and love of - maths and problem-solving outside the formal educational curriculum. Each looks to tackle the issue working with a key group - whether it be parents, students or teachers, and has a strong focus on developing collaborative skills through peer-to-peer activities.
The Maths Mission pilots will run until the end of the 2017/18 academic year, at which point we will share the findings of each of the projects here. Each of the pilots are based on interventions that have shown excellent potential to make an impact on maths attitude and attainment, and we look forward to sharing the results.