School of Mathematics

Students help school pupils make sense of maths

Undergraduate maths students with an interest in teaching as a career are volunteering to spend time helping in Edinburgh secondary school maths classes. In all, 12 undergraduates, mostly from second and third year, are taking part in local school placements, which began in November 2017 and will run until Easter. They are supporting teaching at Firrhill High School, Leith Academy, Royal High School and Trinity Academy in Edinburgh.

Students taking part spend about an hour a week in classrooms. They are each assigned to one class, and their role is determined by the school and teacher according to the needs of the class. Students may work with a small group of pupils, or with individual pupils within a class, to provide focused support, always with the class teacher's supervision.

Students who successfully apply to the scheme receive training which is provided jointly by Edinburgh University Students' Association and the University's School of Mathematics. Most students who apply to take part express an interest in teaching as a career. The placements not only support pupils and their teachers, but give students an opportunity for relevant experience. It can help students make an informed choice about whether to pursue a teaching career, and provide useful experience when applying for a teacher training programme. They can use their experience to help gain an Edinburgh Award, an initiative that develops students' employability through activities outside of their studies.

Some of the schools involved have a shortage of qualified maths teachers, and students help to supplement the provision the schools have already put in place. Students provide additional support and enable teachers to give more attention to pupils who may need it.