Showing You’re Working – The Maths Alumni Project

Would you like to show your pupils how maths is used in the real world?

Would you like to get ex-pupils to come into your school and showcase maths?

Would you like the fruits of your labour to be showcased on this website with the career profiles you generate?

Yes to any of the above?

Then you’ll want to know more about “Showing You’re Working”!

Message from Garrod Musto – Maths Teacher

Several years ago I decided to use the experiences of former pupils at school to generate material illustrating how mathematics is used in the workplace. It was hoped that this might be used in the classroom to engage current students, and address perceptions of mathematics prevalent in society today. The resulting project has naturally developed into three main strands;

  • To generate examples of mathematical use in the workplace.
  • To explore whether linking the workplace to school mathematics effects the perception of students: using an attitudinal survey. Indeed in the initial pilot the levels were significantly increased, and the diversity of professions helped dispel myths about the usefulness of mathematics.
  • To explore the use of examples generated to develop CPD opportunities for teachers to enable them to create meaningful realistic contexts, this in turn would support delivery of Functional Mathematics.


Project Developments

Chris Lawn

Chris Lawn; Professor of ThermoFluids Engineering; Queen Mary University of London. Chris visited the school and this picture was taken during the talk he gave sixth form students based on his research interests, gas turbines and thermo-acoustics.

Since the inception of the project there have been a number of developments.

At Kingswood we have had a number of speakers who have returned to school to talk to the students, and we now have a wealth of case study material that has been generated; but also we have developed a project called multiplicative divisor (Mathematical X Factor) which encourages students to collaborate with their parents to develop a short presentation detailing how they use mathematics in the workplace or their daily lives. This has proved highly successful in engaging parents and opening students’ eyes to the potential utility of mathematics. Also it has provided the department with a diverse series of short video clips describing contextual uses of curriculum material which can now be embedded into our schemes of work. Kingswood is also currently developing a whole school approach to the project.

Philip Sweetenham

Philip Sweetenham; Philip’s current job is as a programme director, overseeing the installing and running of computer systems to calculate banks’ credit exposure. He returned to Kingswood to chat to pupils about this and other aspects of the work he has been involved in. He also mentioned the work of the Harwell laboratory to help the fire service understand the KingsCross station disaster in 1987.

This seeks to explore a coordinated effort which seeks to harness the wealth of experiences that parents and form pupils can bring to the life of a school.

Also the project has had an impact in other schools that have trialled it. Therefore I am grateful to a number of contributors who all took the time to say a few words about the project from their perspective; a mathematics teacher who has trialled it in school; an educational consultant who has integrated “Showing You’re Working into a City wide work related learning initiative in Bristol; and the Director of NCETM. Please click on the links below to read their thoughts on the project.

Message from Jackie Haggett: Maths Teacher Ralph Allen School in Bath. Using the project in schools.

Message from Adam Elgar: Educational Consultant South West, & Paul Williams: Local Education Authority Mathematics Advisor, Bristol. Mathematics and the world outside school – developments in the West of England.

Message from Celia Hoyles: Director of NCETM. Learning Maths Outside the Classroom.

To Conclude


Leslie Cram; Leslie is retired from a career as a museum archaeological curator. He has published over 30 articles on animal remains, and returned to Kingswood to help show pupils how mathematics can be used to find out how big Roman Dogs were using a floor tile excavated from the local Roman Baths museum here in Bath – this is the subject of a joint article Leslie and myself have recently had accepted by the RSS publication Significance for Maths teachers.

‘From the standpoint of the child, the great waste in school comes from his inability to utilize the experience he gets outside while on the other hand he is unable to apply in daily life what he is learning in school. That is the isolation of the school – its isolation from life.’ (John Dewey, 1899)

I feel this quote is particularly resonant given the many government led reports over teh past 10 years examining the state of mathematics here in the UK; such as Leitch and Smith that have highlighted the need to make connections with the workplace and prepare students for life outside the classroom. It is even more powerful when you consider that Dewey wrote these words over 100 years ago in his book The School and Society.

It is my hope that students can and will benefit from the experiences of parents and former pupils brought to life actually in school. It is also my belief that such engagement will lessen the isolation as indicated by Dewey in this quote. Therefore I would encourage other teachers to take up such a contextualised approach to engaging pupils.

Please find attached some of the files that might be useful to any teachers thinking of trying out this project in your schools.

1. Please read the information for teachers first as I think it sets the scene and has a number of good resources and weblinks.

2. The pilot project minutes illustrate some of the problems we encountered and how we tried to lessen their impact.

3. Presentation Royal Society; is a copy of my presentation and notes for a talk I gave to the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) on the initial project a few years back. This illustrates the initial stage of the project in greater detail.

4. The questionnaire I used to test pupil perception of mathematics.The second phase of the project involving parents occurred more recently and I spoke at a national NCETM conference in Nottingham on Family learning.

5. The presentation based on both phases of the project I delivered in Nottingham

Also please follow the link below to an article written in the Guardian featuring this conference.

If you have any success developing this project or indeed have comments regarding this initiative please contact Garrod using his e-mail address: Maths Careers are keen to develop the site and add any relevant materials for other teachers to use.

The Maths Alumni Project is very grateful for the support of the More Maths Grads project (MMG), Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) and The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) during its continued development”

Garrod Musto M.Phil FIMA

Please find below the two video clips that can be seen inside the More Maths Grads resource box that has been sent to schools.

The Maths Alumni Project Part 1

The Maths Alumni Project Part 2