Mathematics in Schools is under the umbrella of the Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme, which provides the framework for degree course units awarding academic credit to science, technology, engineering and maths undergraduates working with teachers in local schools.
One aim of the unit is to give our undergraduates an opportunity to put something back into the community by sharing their knowledge and helping to motivate young people and raise their aspirations towards mathematics. They also support teachers and aim to leave the school with ideas or resources that can be used in years to come. The undergraduates gain skills and confidence in self-management and working with others, and many use this unit as a test of whether a career in teaching is for them.
We work with between 10 and 20 local schools each year, including a home schooling group and schools that may benefit from widening participation activities. The undergraduates have discussions with others on the unit in tutorials held at the University, and they spend about 30 hours working in their school between January and April. The number of students on the unit varies between about 12 and 21, depending on student demand and the number of school places and staff resource available.
The unit runs each year from October to May, with the students spending time in school between January and April. Their time in school usually takes the form of about 3 hours a week for about 10 weeks. They may spend time as a teacher’s assistant in the classroom but they gradually work up to creating some lesson or activity that they can deliver themselves to a class or a small group of students. The feedback from the teachers are that they generally find the undergraduate very useful to their school. We rely on the teachers and schools to provide a productive setting for our undergraduates to develop their skills and we hugely appreciate the extent to which schools do this.
Comment from a teacher, “We have been extremely pleased with the students on this course for the past two years. We hope that this may continue for years to come as it is a great way for students to ‘dip their toe’ into this fantastic vocation that is teaching”