The secondary maths experience from 16 year old Anees - “It’s difficult but important” 

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Maths is really everywhere, I think, and there are lots of ways to access it. Many problems in our society now require maths to be solved.  

Maths can also help students understand the world more, for example when they’re thinking about finances; budgets and taxes. Even for life at home, it helps develop problem-solving skills and increase creativity.  

How to build engagement with appreciation  

A lot of students find maths hard sometimes though, including me; like with the use of variables in exams, and how equations can be presented in completely different ways.   

Many students will understand the concepts, but as soon as they see exam-style questions it sort of puts them off a bit. There’s a lot to remember, and they don’t really understand the full maths language.  

Complimenting students on what they have done is important: if people don’t have that, their confidence and self-esteem can depreciate. If they repeat the same mistakes this builds up and creates more stress.   

Being put in the lowest set at school after SATs or other maths tests doesn’t help: it’s like even the school is saying that maths is really not for you. Instead, with appreciation, students can feel like, “OK, I can do this. I can push myself more to do what I need to do.”  

Adding excitement with games and competitions 

There are other ways that maths could be more exciting and accessible for students, by making it more hands-on. There are some cool maths games online, for example, which offer multiple answers to maths equations and make it competitive.  

Certain activities in class could be competitive too, and maybe offer prizes – such as a scavenger hunt that includes maths problems.  

To make it more relevant for young people, maths should also be changed to include more real-life scenarios and situations; for example, doing taxes, financial budgets and other different problems that we don’t really get taught about at school. 

Even when we ask about them, we don’t really get taught because they are not in the curriculum. That can be frustrating. 

Difficult but important 

For me, thinking about how maths is portrayed in the media and in society, it can sometimes seem a bit old and a bit stuffy.  

The main message that I get from the world is that maths is difficult but important. Overall, though, I see maths as a subject for any career someone wants to choose - whether that’s accounting, medicine, or any other job - which is why it needs to be as accessible as possible.   

Anees, aged 16, is a second-year member of the youth steering group of the Fair Education Alliance (FEA), a coalition of 250 organisations tackling educational ​​inequality.  

Pearson’s Power of Maths campaign works to ensure that everyone can engage with maths and what it can do. Whether it's tackling issues facing maths education or promoting maths positivity, we're focused on working alongside leading thinkers and organisations to help build a number-confident nation. 

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