'I do not think i can change the world - my goals are quite modest'

September 24, 2004

Celia Hoyles, the Government's maths adviser, is keen to inspire more students to do maths and go on to teach it

Celia Hoyles does not like the term "czar" to describe her appointment last week as the Government's chief mathematics adviser, but for some newspapers the label is too snappy to resist.

She has been professor of mathematics education at the Institute of Education since 1984 and is its dean of research and consultancy. She will help implement the Government's mathematics strategy prompted by Adrian Smith's report into post-14 maths education this year.

She will champion the discipline and its teaching in early years, through to schools, further, higher and adult education.

Maths came easily to Professor Hoyles at school and her talent was recognised by a teacher who set further challenges, she told The Times Higher. After studying maths at Manchester University, she made an unplanned move into teaching. The challenge of helping pupils understand maths concepts proved fascinating. "I had to work out how children were thinking about maths - it was just so interesting."

Professor Hoyles' goals in her new role are "quite modest". "I do not think I can change the world, but we can do a better job together. Maths in England has always been a problem, but we now have a good chance to do something about the shortage of maths teachers and get more students to take the subject post-16."

Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, supports subject-specific professional development for teachers, which Professor Hoyles believes could improve the quality of maths teaching.

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