NSW Mathematics Strategy 2025

The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

About the strategy

Why mathematics?

Mathematics matters. It opens up a world of learning and possibility for students.

Mathematics gives them the opportunity to develop skills in problem-solving, analysing, reasoning, justifying, collaborating, questioning, interpreting, proving, wondering and noticing.

Students learn to communicate in words, symbols, models, diagrams and in ways that are so succinct they can be applied by anyone, anywhere irrespective of the language they speak.

Through mathematics, students are empowered with the foundational skills, understanding and dispositions needed to meet the demands of the communities that they will come to lead.

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The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

Updates and resources

Resources

Resources for schools and stakeholders to use to help share the message of the strategy. These NSW Mathematics Strategy resources will help school-based staff and stakeholders share the main points of the strategy with staff, families and communities.

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The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

Message from the Minister

Strengthening the focus on mathematics in our education system is about preparing young people for life and work in the 21st century. Today’s students need to be supported to develop the problem-solving and critical thinking skills that will empower them to build the capacity to overcome challenges, realise opportunities and be successful in an ever-changing workplace.

The development of mathematical skills such as reasoning, analytical thinking, communicating and problem-solving will provide today’s younger generation with solid foundations to succeed in an evolving world.

The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports the NSW Government’s strong commitment to building excellence in the teaching profession. The strategy incorporates priorities to employ 100 specialist primary school mathematics teachers over five years and award up to 320 scholarships valued at up to $50,000 each to STEM undergraduates and career changers for a Master in Teaching (Mathematics) degree. These actions complement statewide access to quality professional learning, as well as the introduction of additional Mathematics Ambassadors to foster a love for mathematics, following the success of mathematics educator Eddie Woo.

As part of the NSW Curriculum Reform, the NSW Department of Education will work with the NSW Education Standards Authority and Skills and Higher Education to design and develop mathematics courses for students in Kindergarten to Year 12. Students will have the opportunity to study mathematics in every year of their schooling, increasing their post-school pathways and life options.

We want students to understand and use the power of mathematics, no matter their numerical ability. This will be possible with the strategy’s new mathematics-based HSC course, currently being piloted, which focuses on practical applications of mathematics.

Arming students with mathematics will help them succeed in tertiary education, including those in STEM, and apply mathematical thinking and skills in a wide range of careers. Many of these jobs will play a transformative role in our future economy and society.

The combined initiatives of the strategy will enable us to strengthen mathematics teaching so that students across NSW develop the mathematical skills as a companion to succeed in life.


The Hon. Sarah Mitchell MLC
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning
October 2020

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The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

Introduction

My vision is for every child in NSW to have the necessary maths skills to succeed in life – whether that’s managing home budgets or preparing them for the high tech jobs that will be on offer in coming years.
– NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Mathematics plays a critical role in a student’s education. As established in a paper by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):

“Proficiency in mathematics is a strong predictor of positive outcomes for young adults, influencing their ability to participate in post-secondary education and their expected future earnings.”¹

To help grow students’ proficiency in mathematics, it is necessary to foster positive attitudes towards mathematics, which are shown to be a key factor in students’ achievement.² Research has found that student confidence, feelings of success, and perceived relevancy of learning experiences are influential factors in student engagement.³ Research evidence like this has informed the observation that:

“Not only do teachers and government need to convey the usefulness of mathematics generally through the curriculum, but they also need to make sure it is experienced as useful in the classroom.”⁴

Learning of mathematics “depends fundamentally on what happens inside the classroom as teachers and learners interact over the curriculum”.⁵ As such, the skilful teaching of mathematics requires specialised skills, knowledge and understanding. Evidence suggests that coherent system support and ongoing professional learning for teachers and leaders are key factors in supporting the skilful and equitable teaching of mathematics at scale.⁶

The strategy aims to:

  • strengthen mathematics teaching in NSW public schools. This will be achieved by:
    • providing evidence-based professional learning to support quality teaching of mathematics Kindergarten to Year 12
    • enriching expertise in mathematics teaching among primary teachers
    • providing mentorship for secondary teachers
    • providing access to high-quality teaching resources for teachers of mathematics.
  • enable NSW public students to experience high-quality mathematical experiences and develop an understanding of the usefulness of mathematics. This includes opportunities for students to consider, apply and develop mathematical skills in ways that reinforce the everyday, lifelong usefulness of mathematical thinking.
  • build and nurture positive perceptions of mathematics in the broader community. This would include supporting parents and carers to feel more confident in talking with their child about mathematics.

The NSW Department of Education recognises that consultation and collaboration with various stakeholders – such as students, teachers, school leaders, parents and carers, academic partners, professional organisations, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), and other partners – is critical to the successful implementation of the strategy.

  1. OECD, ‘PISA 2012 Results in Focus: What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know’, 2014, accessed [13 October 2020].
  2. L Chen, SR Bae, C Battista, S Qin, T Chen, TM Evans, and V Menon, ‘Positive Attitude Toward Math Supports Early Academic Success: Behavioral Evidence and Neurocognitive Mechanisms’, Psychological Science, 2018; J Bobis, J Anderson, A Martin and J Way, ‘A Model for Mathematics Instruction to Enhance Student Motivation and Engagement’, Motivation and Disposition: Pathways to Learning Mathematics, (2011).; CS Dweck Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, New York: Ballantine Books, 2006.
  3. G Munns, W Sawyer and B Cole (Eds.), Exemplary Teachers of Students in Poverty, Routledge, 2013.
  4. M Brown, P Brown and T Bibby, ‘“I would rather die”: Reasons given by 16-year-olds for not continuing their study of mathematics’, Research in Mathematics Education, March 2008.
  5. D Ball and F Forzani, ‘Teaching Skillful Teaching’, Educational Leadership, December 2010/January 2011.
  6. P Cobb, K Jackson, E Henrick and TM Smith, Systems for Instructional Improvement: Creating Coherence from the Classroom to the District Office, Harvard Education Press, 2018.

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The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

NSW Mathematics Strategy at a glance

The NSW Mathematics Strategy is made up of 5 key initiatives and 7 underpinning initiatives.

Key initiatives

  • Pilot a new mathematics-based HSC course for students who have not typically chosen mathematics, focused on numeracy and applications for everyday life.
  • Recruit primary mathematics specialist teachers over five years.
  • Award scholarships to STEM undergraduates and career changers for a Master of Teaching (Mathematics).
  • Collaborate with universities to attract more students to take higher-level HSC mathematics courses.
  • Grow a NSW mathematics ambassador network to positively engage students, teachers, parents and carers, and the wider community.

Underpinning initiatives

  • Establish a mathematics growth team to lead the strengthening of mathematics teaching expertise.
  • Improve initial teacher preparation of primary teachers to teach mathematics in targeted schools and networks.
  • Provide high-quality, evidence-based professional learning that supports and builds the mathematics knowledge of teachers and school leaders.
  • Deliver evidence-based practice to support quality teaching and develop students’ mathematical thinking.
  • Develop a digital solution for teachers to access high-quality teaching resources.
  • Implement communications initiatives to engage students, parents and carers, and teachers.
  • Evaluate initiatives including assessing improvements in key outcomes of the strategy over time.

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The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

Outcomes framework

Our vision

Every student in NSW public schools develops the mathematics skills they need to succeed in life.

What we aim to achieve

Higher-quality teaching of mathematics in NSW public schools

  • Higher-level mathematics courses are more widely available in NSW public schools.
  • Teachers of mathematics feel more confident in teaching mathematics.
  • Teachers of mathematics use effective practice.
  • NSW public schools have more specialist mathematics teachers.
  • Teachers of mathematics have improved access to high-quality resources.
  • Teachers of mathematics have improved access to and participate in quality professional learning opportunities for teaching mathematics.

Student engagement and outcomes in mathematics

  • All Stage 6 students choose to do mathematics.
  • More Stage 6 students choose higher-level mathematics.
  • Student achievement in mathematics increases (K-12).

More positive attitudes to mathematics

  • Students, teachers, parents and carers, and social influencers have more positive attitudes towards mathematics.
  • Parents and carers feel more confident to support students in learning mathematics.
  • Parents and carers access high-quality resources that support effective student learning of mathematics.

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The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

Initiatives

1. New HSC mathematics course

Pilot a new HSC course for students who have not typically chosen to study mathematics.

2. Primary mathematics specialist teachers

Recruit specialist mathematics primary teachers to enhance mathematics teaching expertise in NSW.

3. Secondary teach.MathsNOW scholarships

320 scholarships to support STEM undergraduates and career changers to retrain to teach mathematics.

4. Higher education engagement

Collaborate with universities to encourage more students to study higher-level HSC mathematics courses.

5. Ambassadors and mathematics perceptions

Deliver communications initiatives – including a NSW mathematics ambassador network and a digital resource – to improve perceptions of and engagement with mathematics among students, parents and carers, and teachers.

6. Consolidated tools and procurement platform

Deliver a digital solution for schools and teachers to easily access high-quality mathematics teaching resources.

7. Evidence-based practice

Promote and support the use of high-leverage, research-based practices for teachers and school leaders.

8. Mathematics professional learning

Provide high-quality, evidence-based professional learning that supports and builds the mathematical knowledge of teaching.

9. Initial teacher education

Improve the initial teacher preparation in mathematics of primary teachers in consultation with NSW universities.

10. Mathematics growth team

Develop a mathematics growth team to lead the strengthening of mathematics teaching expertise in targeted schools and networks.

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The NSW Mathematics Strategy supports teaching and learning in NSW public schools, helping students develop the mathematical skills and understanding they need to succeed in life.

Evaluation

The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) will evaluate the NSW Mathematics Strategy to explore the effectiveness and impact of its components and inform decision-making processes. CESE will conduct two levels of evaluation to review the strategy’s aims as outlined in the outcomes framework:

  1. evaluations of individual initiatives
  2. evaluation of the strategy as a whole.

Evaluations of individual initiatives

Evaluations will collect evidence of the effectiveness of each initiative and measure its impact. The evaluation will assess the extent to which the resources invested in particular areas are leading to improvements in the engagement and learning outcomes of students. These evaluations will inform future planning, process improvements and evidence-based decision-making as the initiatives progress.

Evaluation of the strategy

The overall evaluation of the strategy will examine the extent to which the outcomes are being achieved. This evaluation will seek to inform decisions that could be taken to support initiatives in meeting the strategy’s outcomes.

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Progress on the NSW Mathematics Strategy initiatives

Initiative Updates

1.0 New HSC mathematics course

NESA in collaboration with the department, has developed and is piloting a new HSC Mathematics course for students who have not typically chosen to study mathematics. It focuses on numeracy and practical applications for everyday life. The first pilot cohort of 50 schools has just completed the two-year course. The second cohort of 95 schools is underway and the third cohort of 158 schools started in 2021. [SU1]

2.0 Primary mathematics specialist teachers[KW2]

The department has commenced a two-year mathematics specialisation mentorship program with 36 primary teachers in 30 schools across the state in 2021. This is in addition to the appointment and ongoing mentorship of 33 new primary teachers who have completed a mathematics specialisation as part of their undergraduate degree.

3.0 teach.Maths.NOW scholarships

The department has offered 70 teach.MathsNOW scholarships across 2020 and 2021, targeting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) undergraduates and STEM industry professionals seeking a career change to teaching.

4.0 Higher education engagement

The department has engaged with all NSW universities in 2019 and 2020 and will continue this collaborative engagement in 2021. Projects within the NSW Mathematics Strategy will continue to build strong relationships with higher education providers to support better outcomes for students, teachers, and schools.

5.0 Ambassadors and mathematics perceptions

The department has launched the first phase of the maths campaign demonstrating how we all use mathematics every day, featuring mathematics ambassadors and a resource hub. A NSW first, the Everyday Maths Hub is aimed at involving parents and carers in their child's mathematics learning.

Phase 2 will see a second burst of the #MathsTrainsBrains campaign focused on improving perceptions of mathematics. Phase 2 will also be building on the mathematics ambassadors from phase1, and introducing content creators to encourage parents, carers and students to develop a love for mathematics.

6.0 Consolidated tools and procurement platform

The department is currently establishing an Online Learning Tools Panel to offer schools choice and support to meet the needs of learners across all stages and subject areas including mathematics.

The panel is being established to ensure schools have access to quality syllabus-aligned content that meets data, privacy and security requirements.

7.0 Evidence-based practice

The department has been using evidence-base to inform the professional learning created for teachers of mathematics in the NSW Mathematics Strategy. Term 1 2021 has seen the introduction of In conversation – a series of online lectures with academics who share their insights and research about the teaching of mathematics.

8.0 Mathematics professional learning[KW3]

The department is developing a range of professional learning to support teachers of mathematics to build on their teaching and learning of mathematics. To date this includes 'bite-sized' and on-demand professional learning pieces available for all schools across NSW. Two sustained professional learning courses for teachers of mathematics across K-8 called Starting Strong and Working with the big ideas have been developed and will include over 400 schools in 2021. Starting strong commenced in Term 1, 2021 and Working with the big ideas will commence in Term 2, 2021.

In addition, the provision of evidence-based teaching resources continues to be developed in collaboration with other teams within the department, for example, the Thinking Mathematically sites for primary teachers and the Interview of Student Reasoning and accompanying resources.

In 2020 the department trialled Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA), a spatial thinking program, developed by the STEM Education Research Centre (SERC) at the University of Canberra in 80 kindergarten classrooms across 34 public schools.

9.0 Initial teacher education

The department is supporting NESA in strengthening mathematics in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) including through the provision of rigorous mathematics specialisations in 12 separate primary teaching degrees across six universities.

10.0 Mathematics Growth Team

The department has launched the Mathematics Growth Team (MGT), aligned with the ‘Best in Class Teaching unit,’ amplifying the impact of expert mathematics teaching. The MGT has expanded to 10 expert mathematics teachers in 2021 to grow the network of schools from the 30 supported in 2020 to 50 in 2021

11.0 Evaluation

The department has undertaken interim evaluations of three of the program’s initiatives.


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