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Policy projects

Mathematical Futures programme

The Society’s focus in education policy has been on creating the conditions for a broad and balanced education and on addressing priority areas such as mathematical and quantitative skills, sciences and computing education. Digital technologies are transforming our lives and are expected to change the types of jobs that will be available in future. Whilst there has been a rapid increase in the demand for data science skills, there is uncertainty about when and which jobs will cease and what new types of jobs there will be. The mathematical needs of people in the UK should be better understood than they are now, and our education systems configured to provision them.

As the independent scientific academy of the UK, the Society feels it is time to consider and debate the role of mathematics in education in securing prosperity and wellbeing for individuals and our society. We have established the Mathematical Futures programme which aims to build a new vision of mathematics education that anticipates and supports the role of mathematics for individuals, economies and society, strengthening diversity and reducing inequity.

The programme is overseen by the Royal Society Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education and the Mathematical Futures Programme Board and covers the phases between the start of compulsory education and entry into higher or further education. The programme aim is to look at mathematical competences across disciplines, not only from different areas of natural science and mathematics, but also from the social sciences and humanities.

Partnerships

This programme has been made possible by generous funding from Arm Holdings, GlaxoSmithKline and Google and the London Mathematical Society, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the Royal Statistical Society. See the press release.

Aims

Since its launch in February 2020, the MFP Board has met three times to agree terms of reference, workstreams and project concepts. The main aims of the MFP are to:

  • Analyse the mathematical competences that will be needed by students leaving compulsory education and training in the future;
  • Consider the implications of reshaping of mathematics in education for 4–19 education as a whole and mathematics education in particular;
  • Recognise the skills required for teachers who would teach these curricula.

Core questions the programme seeks to answer

  • What mathematical competences will be needed by citizens to thrive in the future?
  • How should education systems develop these mathematical competences? 

In the Mathematical Futures programme, the term mathematics is used inclusively, covering the wide variety of ways of thinking, reasoning and solving mathematical problems which touch on many aspects of everyday life, work and study (in mathematics as well as in other subjects/disciplines). It includes what is commonly considered as mathematics, quantitative skills and other activities of a mathematical nature such as those associated with numeracy, statistics, computing, and data analysis. 

Mathematical competences cover and pay particular attention to the way a wide range of mathematical concepts, skills and understanding as well as attitudes are brought together when applying mathematics to solve and make sense of issues and problems. 

Workstreams and projects

Changing nature of mathematics Project 1. Call for views on the changing nature and role of mathematics  Project 2. Evidence on the value of mathematics in the future
Landscaping and horizon scanning Project 3a. Landscaping national mathematics education policy Project 3b. Landscaping international mathematics education
Partnership building Roundtables, workshops, and other events Campaigns using social media, podcasts, position papers 
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