The eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks are central to the Government’s new Careers Strategy for Schools and Colleges. They represent what a world-class careers education looks like and were developed by the Gatsby Foundation, with the government expecting schools to implement the eight Gatsby Benchmarks over the next few years. Maths qualifications are vital to a huge number of career choices; therefore, schools need to make sure that their maths careers advice is the best it can be.
Here are the eight Gatsby Benchmarks, taken from the Gatsby Website:
- A stable careers programme
- Learning from career and labour market information
- Addressing the needs of each pupil
- Linking curriculum learning to careers
- Encounters with employers and employees
- Experiences of workplaces
- Encounters with further and higher education
- Personal guidance
Maths Careers and the Eight Gatsby Benchmarks – What Do Schools Need to Know?
- Most careers advisors are from a humanities or social sciences background. This means that it is important to make sure that your careers staff have adequate training in STEM careers advice.
- Many maths teachers don’t know about the range of maths careers which are available or about uses of maths in the real world. Often they aren’t given time to gain this knowledge and need support from Senior Leadership to develop in this area.
- Between 2011 and 2013 the number of people working in jobs where mathematical sciences qualifications are essential rose by 20%. (The total UK workforce only rose by 2.3% in this time.) Almost 2 million people now work in jobs where mathematical sciences qualifications are essential. This means maths careers advice is set to become more and more important as time goes on. See the Report Mathematical Sciences People Pipeline for more details.
- There are lots of misconceptions about maths careers – some careers advisors and teachers still think that accountancy and teaching are the only options available, when in fact maths careers are extremely diverse and are found in almost every sector of the economy.
- Maths careers are some of the most highly paid careers available. It has been found that anyone taking A Level maths on average earns 11% more during their lifetime. Schools should be promoting maths careers to any pupil who is enjoying mathematics at school, as studying mathematics has been shown to lead to excellent career prospects.
- Maths is a gatekeeper to many jobs and professions – teachers and careers professionals need to be aware of the jobs and university courses which will require maths.
- Mathematics A Level is now the most popular A Level in England, (and yet there is still a skills shortage which is reported by employers). This means that most schools and colleges will have a large number of A Level maths students – they need to make sure that they are providing good maths careers advice for these students.
How Can Schools and Colleges Use the MathsCareers Site to Implement the Eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks?
mathscareers.org.uk is the most popular website in the UK for maths careers information and is packed full of information on maths careers. It is aimed at both pupils and teachers, and is an excellent resource to make the most of.
Upskill Your Maths Teachers and Careers Advisors
Give your maths teachers and careers advisors some dedicated time to research maths careers. If you choose one maths teacher to do this, then get them to share their findings with their department. They aren’t going to be able to implement the Gatsby benchmarks if they don’t know the information themselves. If they only had one hour, then here are our top picks for them to read:
Articles Containing Facts About the Importance of Maths to the Economy and Labour Market
Maths Matters Case Studies – Showing the Importance of Maths to the Economy
A series of short case studies describing modern mathematics research. These are cutting edge examples of where maths is used in the real world. The case studies are suitable for adults or Sixth Formers and you don’t need a maths background to understand them.
Maths Careers Profiles
The website has collected hundreds of career profiles – showing how maths is used everywhere. Keep scrolling down the page and you will get to see the types of maths jobs which are out there for your pupils. From code breakers to weather forecasters – you will get some great ideas to share with your pupils. (Please note that most of these profiles focus on careers which need a mathematical degree. They don’t tend to focus on careers such as nursing which need maths, but don’t need a maths degree.)
Other Things to Do
Engage Your Pupils With mathscareers.org.uk
Most of our content is aimed at pupils who are age 14-16. It can be hard to get pupils to do research for themselves, therefore plan in annual activities which get your pupils to engage with the site. Every year mathscareers.org.uk runs two competitions aimed at school pupils. Recent competitions have included making a poster about ‘Hidden Maths’ where pupils have investigated the maths which is inside areas such as sport, music or crime detection. Several schools enter this competition en masse and repeatedly every year – they have clearly made it part of their stable careers programme. (Gatsby Benchmark 1.)
Make a Permanent Display in Your Maths Department
This could include some inspirational quotes, read the article ‘Great maths quotes to put on your classroom wall’ for ideas. Make sure every pupil has to investigate maths careers as homework or as an extended project. Put the results up on the wall. Print out your favourite career profiles. Feature local employers and where they need maths. The ideas are endless.
Give Great Maths Careers Advice at Age 16
Pupils do need to have the right prerequisite skills and grades in order to study A Level maths. However there are also plenty of pupils who just don’t know which degree courses need A Level maths. Make sure you are giving the right advice by reading our article on Which Degree Courses need A Level maths. In particular – should they be choosing Further Maths A Level – this is an important choice which will impact their choice of degree.
Give Great Maths Careers Advice at Age 18
If a pupil loves maths then do you understand the options which are available? Maths, physics, data science, computer science, statistics, engineering, accounting and finance – there is a lot of choice for pupils who want a mathematically rich degree.
If a pupil has decided to study maths at university then they will need help to choose where to study and how to prepare for any entrance exams. Read the article on How to choose a maths degree. You might also be interested in Joint Degrees including mathematics.
Make sure you have at least one member of staff who becomes an expert on applying to university for Mathematics. This can be tough in a school where not many pupils choose mathematics at university, however it is just as important to encourage the small number of pupils who might go down this route.
Encourage your Sixth Formers to subscribe to the e16plus newsletter which is sent out every half term by the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications and contains maths careers information, competitions and interesting articles on maths.
Other Great Things You Can Do to Promote Maths Careers
Employers – try and get people from the real world of work into your school. You could use the STEM ambassadors programme.
Trips and Visits
Bring maths alive by visiting places such as Bletchley Park or the maths gallery at the science museum. Read the article Ideas for Maths Themed Days Out. Show your pupils that maths exists outside the classroom.
But Are Maths Careers Actually Important?
Maths teachers are under a lot of pressure to deliver GCSE grades, and careers can sometimes feel like just one more extra thing to do. However, many pupils struggle with maths because they can’t see its relevance or what they will do with it in the future. Great careers advice can inspire pupils to work harder and be more focused. Pupils need to get good grades to open doors, but they can’t make the most of their grades if they don’t know what to do with them.