Maths in Context

This exciting project is formed on the basis of improving teenagers understanding of ‘real-world’ maths in order to help positively impact their attainment and engagement in GCSE level maths.

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The project
September 2017 to March 2020
Project brief: 
This project involves training maths teachers to use real-world contexts when teaching maths, especially using examples related to personal finance.
The funding
Funder brief: 
This project is co-funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Money Advice Service (MAS).

Project Overview

The aim of Maths in Context is to improve the engagement and attainment of students at GCSE level maths, and provide them with a better understanding of real-world maths and how to apply this later in life.

The project looks to make maths more accessible, engaging, and relevant to real life, whilst also preparing students for the types of questions they might face in exams, thus improving their financial education. 

This is particularly important as around a quarter of questions in GCSE maths exams involve applying maths to real-world contexts, and analysis of past papers shows that many pupils do particularly poorly on such context-based questions, and especially those pupils with low prior attainment. 

The Maths in Context project will run as follows:

-  Recruit 130 secondary schools across England
-  Half of the recruited schools will receive training and resources as a 'treatment' group, and half will act as a 'control' group.
-  Each treatment school will elect a 'lead teacher', and with support from a Young Enterprise education consultant, will work with Year 10 students to embed a series of pre-developed financial education lessons.
- Each control school will operate a 'business as usual' model.


A team from Nottingham University has been appointed to conduct the evaluation. The design is a two-armed randomised controlled trial involving 130 secondary schools, with 65 of these schools allocated to receive training and resources, and 65 schools allocated to a business-as-usual control group.

Schools in the treatment arm will send a lead teacher to receive one day of external training, taking place in September 2017. The training day outlines the pedagogical approach to teaching maths in context, and will provide the series of pre-developed financial education lesson plans, designed to target areas of the Maths GCSE curriculum.

These lead teachers will then be supported within their own schools to deliver and embed the lesson plans as part of their maths programme of study.

The first stage of the project is now complete and treatment schools have competed their first year of active intervention, implementing financial education in Maths lessons over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year with the support of Young Enterprise consultants.

Treatment schools will now be working independently to continue to embed financial education into their scheme of work ahead of Maths GCSE exams in 2019.

Control schools will continue to operate a 'business as usual' model for the current academic year.

The final evaluation report will be published in Spring 2020.