I am a post-16 maths teacher within a federation of schools in Bristol. Over the past couple of years, I have become very aware of the difficulty we have experienced in recruiting girls to participate in level 3 maths. As a passionate female maths teacher, this is something very close to my heart and I therefore started thinking about what we could do to promote the benefits of studying maths with the girls in our school.
I decided to organise a level 3 maths taster session, aimed at encouraging them to consider continuing to study maths post-16. To make this work, I needed to make sure that I organised something that was as engaging and interesting as possible, so I contacted the AMSP to see what support they could offer to help me. I contacted the Girls Participation Coordinator, Rachel Beddoes, who directed me to some great resources and put me in contact with some female STEM Ambassadors. She also gave me the overview of a similar session she had run which helped me to think about the structure of the day.
The session was comprised of three lessons and involved a starter with some maths problems and an activity where the students had to sort cards into statements that applied to them and their feelings about maths. This activity was particularly good as I didn’t know the students very well so it allowed me to go around and talk to them about their feelings towards maths. This then led into a session about the different maths qualifications available post-16 and an introduction to the whole session. After this, the two STEM Ambassadors talked about their experiences with maths, where that led them to, and how they use maths now in their jobs. This led nicely into a session about where different areas of maths are used and some mini tasters looking at some of these areas of maths. After break we spent a session looking at games and the maths that is used in them.
The session had a positive feel and most students felt they had gained some new knowledge from the session. Importantly there were some girls who weren’t previously considering continuing with maths but were now going to do so. I would like to repeat this again next year with a similar structure. One of the valuable bits of feedback that I received, which I will act upon next time, was that there was too much talking and not enough time to actually do the maths and for students to ask questions.
I felt the event was a success and I am keen to see whether we can involve other schools in our federation next year.
By Rachel Finlayson