Why Study Maths?

Jo Lane

Monday, 17 September 2018

Maths. Pupils tend to love it or hate it, with very few sitting on the fence! You either ‘get it’ or you don’t, and many young people vent their frustrations at maths topics that challenge them.
All too often you hear a pupil cry, “When will I ever use this once I’ve left school?” And the answer to that question is changing, because the knowledge and skills learnt in maths lessons are becoming more and more important when it comes to the careers landscape.

Back in the day, Maths was seen as essential for becoming an accountant or an engineer, and if someone had said you needed a degree in Maths if you wanted a career in Marketing, you would probably have questioned their sanity.

"...in today’s customer-centric world, maths is becoming more and more important and HR departments are looking to recruit employees with the skills to analyse ‘big data’ – the term given for the growing volume of transaction data gathered by organisations."


Big data analytics has become increasingly embraced by retailers, financial services firms, insurers, health care organisations, manufacturers, energy companies and other mainstream enterprises, all of whom use it help them make informed business decisions.

The types of big data job roles include: data scientists, predictive modellers and statisticians and these professionals form part of the Business Intelligence (BI) departments within organisations. So the question is “How does the maths curriculum feed into these roles?”

 

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I recently invited a gentleman called Keith Guthrie, Head of Business Intelligence at Sainsbury’s, to speak to my A-Level maths pupils, and he provided a brilliant insight into how the skills they were learning translate into the ‘real world’. When Keith spoke about the importance of statistics, without exception the whole class groaned!

This was clearly not a favoured topic in the classroom, therefore it was excellent to hear Keith explain why statistics are so important. He gave them examples of how he used statistics for data analytics and how they fed into his Business Intelligence role. Keith also explained how the mathematical discipline of problem-solving has transferred into one of the key employability skill organisations are looking for in future employees – Problem Solving Skills.

Pupils from reception to sixth form are solving problems throughout their school day and it is important that as professionals we raise awareness of this vital skill and equip pupils with the skills needed to tackle problems.


The process of solving a problem can be more important than the final outcome, and if young people can master the art of problem-solving it will, without doubt, help them in their future career.

Further reading on a recent study of mathematical problem-solving in the classroom can be found here.

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About our Community Expert

04_COMMUNITY_05_JOJo Lane
Head of Careers at The Windsor Boys' School

Combining her business experience with an ability to engage KS4&5 pupils in the classroom has enabled Jo to specialise in delivering learning experiences linked to the ‘real world’.

An advocate of apprenticeships as an alternative to the traditional university route, Jo states her greatest job satisfaction has come from helping pupils into apprenticeship roles and seeing them thrive. 

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