The British Academy has today welcomed the publication of Professor Sir Adrian Smith’s Review of Post-16 Mathematics Education in England.
Quantitative skills are vital for all citizens, enabling them to participate more fully in the democratic process, enhancing research in universities and in the work place, and supporting the economy. The Academy’s report Count Us In argues that the ability to understand and interpret data is an essential feature of life in the 21st century: vital for the economy, for our society and for us as individuals. Sir Adrian’s recommendations are an important step towards enabling the UK to rise to the challenge of becoming a data-literate nation. The demand for quantitative skills in the UK workforce will continue to grow, with changes in the nature of work as a result of increasing competitive pressures, the development of technology and growing availability and use of data.
The British Academy looks forward to working with government, its sister national academy the Royal Society and other UK learned societies on the implementation of relevant recommendations of the Review, which will contribute to addressing this economic need. The British Academy believes that a number of subjects beyond maths and science provide a rich context for the development of quantitative skills, and that this opens up the subject to a broader spread of the school population. We will work to help higher education institutions to make clearer to potential applicants the importance of choosing appropriate qualifications at level 3 if they wish to study undergraduate courses with a significant quantitative element, but also the number of possible pathways which facilitate this. Our work with employers will consider how they can signal the value of quantitative skills within the workforce, while recognising the different routes by which these skills may be developed.
We will share with government the findings of our special research project ‘Unsettling Understandings of Maths Anxiety’, which will provide an up-to-date systematic review of research into the issue of maths anxiety, analyse its implications for policy and practice, and identify potential interventions and gaps in our knowledge, offering crucial evidence on the issue of negative attitudes towards maths.
Commenting on the Review, Professor Sir Ian Diamond FBA FAcSS FRSE, Chair of the High Level Strategy Group for Quantitative Skills at the British Academy said:
“Adrian Smith’s recommendations represent a positive step towards enabling the UK to rise to the challenge of becoming a data-literate nation. They will contribute to the cultural and structural changes within the education system which are required to enable quantitative skills to flourish at all levels to meet the diverse needs of society and the economy.”