Teach First

From the City to the school: The City of London Corporation’s Mark Boleat shows a class how their maths studies are a link to a future in business

A recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that girls underperform in maths and science, due in large part of a lack of self-confidence and gender stereotyped career options. So a recent guest to Mulberry School for Girls looked at making maths relevant for the school’s pupils.

On 12 June 2015, Mulberry School for Girls, one of our partner schools since our inception in 2002, welcomed a Guest Teacher lesson from Mark Boleat, Policy and Resources Chairman at the City of London Corporation and a leading figure in the City of London. The Guest Teacher Programme takes business leaders back to the classroom to inspire pupils and open up potential careers paths. Mark taught a maths lesson to a Year 7 class, comprising 11-12 year old girls who were engaged and enthusiastic in learning what Mark had to share.

The topic of Mark’s lesson was data handling, with particular reference to surveys, sample sizes, qualifying data and percentages. Mark used real-world examples to bring the complex subject to life, such as music, film and the recent General Election. 

He began by asking the class to guess his own age and using the various guesses to demonstrate averages. The importance of sample size and audience in surveys was demonstrated by pupils selecting their favourite band out of three (from X Factor stars One Direction, 5 Seconds to Summer or Little Mix) and favourite film (out of Pirates of the Caribbean, Pitch Perfect 2 and The Sound of Music), while the inaccuracy of the opinion polls in the recent General Election was used to teach sums and percentages and to show how sample sizes can affect results.
 
The class’s usual teacher, Teach First participant Wanda Pierce, felt that the pupils gained a great deal from Mark’s approach to teaching maths: “The class really enjoyed Mark coming into their lesson,” she says. “They were able to hear first-hand how what they are learning in class is used in real life. Working with real statistics was very exciting for the students and they have learnt the important lesson of viewing statements with a critical eye.”
 
Speaking of his experience, Mark said: “The lesson was very rewarding, and I hope the students gained a valuable insight into how their studies apply to the world of work. They were very interested in learning about the election data and working out voting share by percentages. It was great to teach such a dynamic and enthusiastic group of girls.
 
“I would recommend people from all sorts of organisations get involved with the guest teacher programme, because it is essential that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have that exposure. Connecting businesses with schools helps to raise aspirations and demonstrate to young people the variety of career options available to them.”