Making maths matter for future career options

More teachers are training to deliver a course for senior students who may have lost interest in maths but need it for their future. Sven Wright reports.

High school students doing maths activities outside. High school students doing maths activities outside.
Image: A new course provides students with the support they need to develop core maths and numeracy skills and apply them in everyday life.

Building maths and numeracy confidence in Year 11 and 12 students is a priority for many high schools and the focus of a course aimed at re-engaging students in the subject.

Forty teachers from Bombala to Broken Hill met in Sydney at one of the recent numeracy conferences to share the latest classroom tools, tasks and techniques that overcome barriers that can limit students’ understanding and use of maths and numeracy.

Conference organiser Daniel Proctor, the Department of Education’s NSW Mathematics Strategy Secondary Mathematics Coordinator, said understanding maths and numeracy was vital for students’ post-school opportunities and learning.

“We have new ways of teaching that bring maths and numeracy to life that are far more engaging than working through a textbook,” he said.

“We have tools, practical applications and activities that reinforce how maths and numeracy are the foundation of so many skills that students will use as they progress through other subjects at school, and afterwards in training, tertiary education or employment.”

The Numeracy Stage 6 course was last year introduced statewide to support students in building practical maths and numeracy skills for life and work in the 21st century.

It aims to ensure students have the support they need to develop core maths and numeracy skills and to apply them in everyday life.

More than 5,500 students have completed the course since the start of a three-year pilot run by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and supported by the NSW Mathematics Strategy.

Mr Proctor said making the practical connection in students’ minds between maths and the demands of a career was often a motivating factor in students’ success in the subject.

“The numeracy course empowers students who may have otherwise disengaged from mathematics,” he said.

The course has resulted in increased engagement in maths, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students in rural and remote areas and those studying vocational education and training courses, according to an evaluation of the Numeracy course by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation.

You can learn more about how we use maths every day by looking at the Everyday Maths Hub.

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