FEATURE7 November 2013

Adding up to problems

x Sponsored content on Research Live and in Impact magazine is editorially independent.
Find out more about advertising and sponsorship.


In a data-driven world, maths skills are more important than ever. But with few young people in the UK continuing their maths education beyond the age of 16, demand could soon outstrip supply.


We live in a data-driven world. It’s a familiar refrain, but it’s true. To succeed in a data-driven world, one needs a head for numbers and the ability to understand them, interpret them and analyse them. But in the UK, such skills are in limited supply.

Maths, in particular, is not our strong point. Last year, 42% of school-leavers failed to achieve grade A*-C in their maths GCSE. Worse, a study commissioned by the Sutton Trust found that the post-GCSE participation rate for mathematics education in England trails the rest of the world: only 26% are studying any maths after secondary school, compared with more than 90% in Hong Kong and Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate, 84% in Massachusetts, USA, 71% in New Zealand and 66% in Singapore.

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl says: “Maths matters too much to cut it off after [the age of] 16… It is at the heart of everyday technology, from our smartphones and tablets to ...