Release type: Media Release

Date:

Bringing maths into the real world for students

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham
Minister for Education and Training

Australian students will help solve real-world problems to demonstrate the relevance of maths to their lives, communities and future careers, as part of a new project announced today by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham.

“The Australian Government will provide $6.4 million from the Mathematics by Inquiry initiative to support the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers to develop and promote new maths resources for Foundation to Year 10 students, teachers and school leaders,” Senator Birmingham said.

“From mechanics to master chefs, budding film makers to Wi-Fi inventors, skateboard designers to spaceshuttle pilots – maths is part of the way we live and work.

“Yet when people think of maths they usually think textbooks and timetables.  

“These new curriculum and teaching materials will help make maths more meaningful – and more attractive, to students by showing them how they use maths in their own experiences, careers and lives, in a range of everyday situations.

“For example, students might use maths to assess renewable energy options for their school or local community, test the value of insurance policies, or set up a feature film schedule.”

The first resources developed through the Mathematics by Inquiry initiative will be available in late 2016.

“Australia’s performance in mathematical literacy in schools has fallen in absolute and relative terms to its lowest level in 20 years,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Of the countries tested in 2003, only five significantly outperformed Australia in mathematical literacy but by 2012 we were outperformed by 12 countries.

“Clearly, we can, and need to, do better.

“The Australian Government is committed to increasing the uptake of the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics - in schools, universities, and in vocational education and training.”

Mathematics by Inquiry is a key part of the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda in which over $12 million is being spent to improve the focus on the teaching of STEM subjects in schools across Australia.