The Royal Society, with support from Arm, aims to strengthen mathematics curricula in schools

14 June 2019

The Royal Society, with support from global technology leader Arm, is working on Mathematics Curricula Futures, a research project to shape mathematics curricula of the future and drive up the study of maths to age 18.

The scope of the project includes a look at the implications of technological change on school mathematics, such as the need for improved provision of data science skills and knowledge in subject content. Global technology leader Arm is the founding supporter of the research project, with other companies from different sectors joining to form a consortium of industrial supporters.

The Royal Society is working in partnership with the Royal Statistical Society, the London Mathematical Society and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, in a two-year project led by Professor Frank Kelly FRS to understand the nature of mathematical skills young people need to be successful in their education, future employment and life.

The Mathematics Curricula Futures programme of work will establish the mathematical, quantitative and data skills needed by business, industry, the third sector, government and higher education. It will also review the mathematics curricula, qualifications and assessment and propose future curricular models suitable for the 21st-century young person.

The project will help children and young people get excited about maths and provide them with creative, mathematical, quantitative thinking and data skills, crucial to securing their success in the world of work. It will also equip teachers to teach young people the skills required to help solve tomorrow’s challenges, provide innovative approaches to improve outcomes in maths across education stages and help inspire more young people to take up careers requiring maths in the future.

Professor Frank Kelly FRS, Chair of the Royal Society’s Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) said:

“Mathematics has been taught since ancient times, and underpins our modern technology, economy and society. We need to ensure our education system provides all young people across all stages of education with mathematical knowledge and skills, and this will require curriculum and qualifications change over the next ten years. It will need a healthy supply of maths teachers, and also best-in-class teacher training and professional development and innovative curricula which are evidence-based about what works.

“We are delighted that Arm is the first partner to support the research phase of this very important project. In a world where mathematics is increasingly embedded into our work and daily lives we need to ensure that the mathematics curriculum equips young people with competencies that will be appropriate and relevant for uncertain future workplace practices.”

Graham Budd, president and chief operating officer at Arm, said:

“The STEM skills gap is an ongoing concern for companies focused on technological innovation, and we’re working closely with the wider education community to address this gap through the Arm School Program (ASP), which focuses on supporting children’s experiences of STEM in the classroom. Mathematics is very much at the heart of STEM and we hope the Royal Society’s research will lead to students being well equipped with the skills needed to be successful in future careers in technology.”

In 2017, Sir Adrian Smith’s review of maths education for 16- to 18-year-olds in England found a great demand for maths, quantitative and data skills in the labour market at all levels and of great importance to the future careers of pupils. In 2013, a Royal Society ACME report found that more young people need to know more mathematics and to be confident in using it. The Society’s recently published Dynamics of Data Science Skills report identified that ensuring our education system provides all young people with data science knowledge and skills will require curriculum change within ten years as a key recommendation. 

Find out more about the Royal Society's work on Mathematics education.