Maths groups favour unity

April 1, 2005

Maths academics met school and college teachers this week ata ground-breaking conference that called for changes to mathematics education in Britain.

For the first time, all leading UK mathematics organisations united for a single conference, Routes Of Unity , organised by the British Congress of Mathematics Education (BCME) and held at Warwick University this week.

Organisers hoped the conference would build on gathering momentum for change after the Smith report last year, which looked at maths education post-14.

The report, prepared by Adrian Smith, principal of Queen Mary, University of London, says that modern maths teaching fails to meet the needs of pupils, teachers, universities and employers. It calls for a £150 million rescue package.

Speaking to The Times Higher this week, Celia Hoyles, the Government's maths adviser and professor of mathematics education at the Institute of Education, said it was significant that all the leading UK mathematical organisations had united at a conference.

"Mathematics has so many faces," she said. "It is a fundamental skill for all, a subject and discipline in its own right and a service subject for science and many other subjects."

She told the conference that maths was high on the Government's policy agenda.

Another keynote speaker, Adam McBride, president of the Mathematical Association and head of mathematics at Strathclyde University, said: "The past 30 years have seen whole new areas developing in response to the needs of other areas."

The BCME is a consortium of 12 organisations including the Mathematical Association, the Royal Statistical Society and the London Mathematical Society and several groups representing mathematics teachers, historians and other learning researchers.

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