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31 July 2023

Teaching maths beyond the classroom at King's annual Maths Teachers' Conference

Academics joined over thirty teachers from across state schools in London to enrich their maths learning


The Department of Mathematics’ annual Maths Teachers’ Conference was back in person earlier this month, supporting teachers from local state schools to help their students take maths to the next level, and to provide a more holistic view of maths education – connecting it to the world beyond the classroom.

More than 30 teachers joined King's for an afternoon of talks and discussions, strengthening partnerships with teachers local to the university, as well as forging new ones. By doing so, the conference aims to not only promote best practice within schools but empower educators to take maths education beyond what’s taught in the curriculum to benefit their students. In addition, by helping teachers to prepare their students for maths beyond A Level, the programme supports the next generation of university mathematicians.

As organiser of the conference, Dr Asuka Kumon, explains, "It was a pleasure to welcome teachers from across London to the event this year. We are proud to be a diverse community of mathematicians with strong links to local schools, and the Maths Teachers’ Conference is a chance to ensure we make the most of the opportunities this affords by opening our doors to local teachers, providing a space for them to develop their practice and for everyone to learn from one another."

We are proud to be a diverse community of mathematicians with strong links to local schools, and the Maths Teachers’ Conference is a chance to ensure we make the most of the opportunities this affords."

Dr Asuka Kumon, Lecturer in Pure Mathematics Education, Department of Mathematics

The event began with a talk from Dr Dominic Yeo on what makes a good maths competition problem. Alongside lecturing at King’s, Dr Yeo is the Chair of the British Mathematical Olympiad and shared his first-hand experience of the value of stretching students beyond the school curriculum.

This was followed by the opportunity for teachers to share best practice with each other on how to engage disengaged students. The discussion was chaired by Dr Asuka Kumon, who along with being a Lecturer in Pure Mathematics Education at King’s previously taught at the King’s Maths School, a specialist mathematics sixth-form college associated with the university.

For many, this opportunity to share their experience and learnings with other educators was their favourite part of the day, with one participant stating, "I enjoyed the discussions, networking and sharing ideas most of all."

The first half of the conference concluded with a lecture from Professor Benjamin Doyon on the mathematics of emergence, which is the appearance of new phenomena from interactions which are normally very simple, but at large scales can become novel and complex.

By sharing his work, Professor Doyon demonstrated the deep connection between straightforward school maths and cutting-edge advances in mathematical research.

Professor Benjamin Doyon presents on the mathematics of emergence
Professor Benjamin Doyon presents on the mathematics of emergence

A networking session was held over refreshments with practitioners mixing and sharing learnings on how maths might develop beyond school amongst each other and with King’s mathematicians.

Finally, the event was closed with a talk from bestselling maths author and broadcaster Rob Eastaway. A regular on BBC Radio 4’s More or Less, Rob spoke about the importance of estimation as a life skill, and how it draws on the maths that we learn in school. By considering how estimation can be applied to a range of situations, from closing business deals to the odds of dealing a perfect hand, to figuring out the number of cats on the planet, Rob showed how the maths of the classroom could translate into success in the real world.

Bringing maths to life for young people is important on many levels, and sharing ideas with teachers can impact countless students down the line – though of course they’ll only be countless until we try to estimate just how many there are!"

Rob Eastaway, Author and Broadcaster

The next annual Maths Teachers’ Conference will be held in Summer 2024, with the department planning to welcome many more teachers to King’s. Details of all upcoming maths outreach opportunities can be found on the Department of Mathematics' outreach pages.

In this story

Asuka Kumon

Lecturer in Pure Mathematics Education

Dominic  Yeo

AEP Lecturer in Mathematics

Benjamin Doyon

Co-chair in Disordered Systems