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Maths Anxiety Summit
13th June 2018 Report by Jeremy Dudman-Jones
As a teacher for 28 years and someone with more than a passing interest in Educational Neuroscience it was a pleasure to have been invited to the inaugural Maths Anxiety summit organised through the newly formed Maths Anxiety Trust. A wonderful new initiative backed by Shirley Conran and one that we in education have needed for a number of years now. The surroundings of the marble halls of Senate House UCL provided the perfect back drop for 3 hours of stimulating presentations followed by discussions and networking.
The audience was a diverse group of people but with one thing in common, a recognition that Maths Anxiety, amongst a range of students, was very real and it was certainly the cause of many lack of academic progress in schools. At last we have been given the opportunity to discuss these concerns and look for solutions and strategies, with academics at the forefront of research into the subject. Colleagues came from a range of schools from State to private and from a range of age groups from early years to Post 16. This sort of event is absolutely what we in education need as it builds that bridge between academics, practitioners and policy makers; very much in keeping with the ethos of other organisations like Learnus.
The evening started with a wonderfully absorbing and insightful talk by Dame Celia Hoyles; amusing and engaging the audience was reminded that Maths anxiety issues were not new, academics have in fact been working on Maths related concerns for a number of years but that now we really needed to to use the knowledge gained to inform teaching and possibly curriculum changes. Dame Alison Peacock gave the perspective from the Teacher training point of view; Michelle Wildman presented a parents insight into the topic; Prof David Sheffield and Dr Tom Hunt summed up the research that was currently being done into intervention techniques that appeared to be working; the evening was rounded off with an inspiring offering from Prof Mike Askew, a rallying call too all of us that cared about Maths education and Learning, a reminder that we needed to work together and grateful thanks to the likes of Shirley Conran who put her reputation on the line by setting up the Maths Anxiety trust.
As with all of these sorts of events the Q&A session at the end was compulsive viewing with many more questions than time to answer, thankfully though the evening finished off with wine and canapes, allowing everyone the chance to network, develop links we other practitioners and pose those questions that they hadn’t had the chance to ask earlier.
I for one left the event inspired and determined to work more closely with The maths Anxiety Trust and Learnus, to seek strategies and solutions to a problem that for too long has limited student’s progress in schools.