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Professor examines decline in UK maths education

Prof Jo Boaler

Maths teaching in UK schools is failing to inspire girls to study the subject at A-level and beyond, says University of Sussex Professor Jo Boaler.

Professor Boaler, a renowned education scholar and author of The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths, presents her argument at a special event at the Royal Institution, London next week.

At the event, entitled Maths education: does it add up?, Professor Boaler examines the downfalls of maths teaching in Britain with a distinguished panel including actor, writer and University of Sussex Chancellor Sanjeev Bhaskar, Professor of science education Michael Reiss and maths celebrity Carol Vordeman. The event will be chaired by the writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry.

Professor Boaler says: “My talk asks why so many children and adults are traumatised by maths, through no weakness of their own.”

Presenting worrying statistics in the declining number of White British students taking maths A-level, the panellists will take a serious look at why this is the case and why England has the worst record in the UK and one of the worst records in the world for numbers of girls taking advanced maths courses.

Sanjeev Bhaskar and Carol Vorderman round off the discussion with a look at why maths is hated and feared by so much of the population and how this trend will affect the long-term scientific and technological needs of society.

In her lecture, Professor Boaler links all of these issues to the ways maths is taught in schools and to recent educational reforms and will show videos of classrooms in the USA and compare classroom practice there with what happens in England.

Notes for Editors

Jo Boaler is the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Sussex. The paperback version of her book, The Elephant in the Classroom, is published by Souvenir Press on Wednesday 17 February.

Listen to Professor Boaler discussing maths education on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

Maths education: does it add up? takes place on Wednesday 17 February 2010, 7pm-8.30pm, at The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London. Tickets cost £8 (Concessions £6; RI members £4)

For more information and Press passes contact: Kristen Dodd, Marketing and Communications Manager, The Royal Institution. Email: or tel: 020 7670 2991.

For information about Education research and teaching at Sussex, visit the web pages or contact the University of Sussex Press office.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888 or email



Last updated: Thursday, 14 June 2018