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HLF Blogs: Is mathematics idealistic or realistic?

In September, Katie and Paul spent a week blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.

Stephen Smale

5th Heidelberg Laureate Forum 2017, Heidelberg, Germany, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/HLF

The closing talk of the HLF’s main lecture programme (before the young researchers and laureates head off to participate in scientific interaction with SAP representatives to discuss maths and computer science in industry) was given by Fields Medalist Steve Smale.

@standupmaths’ petition has had a response from the government

Ewood Park football ground sign

Friend of the site Matt Parker recently made headlines because of his UK Government Petition to correct the heinous geometrical oddity that is the UK Tourist sign for a football ground. In the standard sign, somehow a sheet of tessellating hexagons is depicted as wrapping around a sphere in a highly improbable (and provably impossible) way.

The petition has achieved a modicum of success, in that it’s passed the 10,000 signatures required to elicit a response from the government. Sadly, the response isn’t quite what you’d like to hear.

Save the Further Maths Support Programme

Calculator and A-level maths question

The Further Maths Support Programme is an organisation in the UK that supports students wishing to take an A-level in Further Maths. Since this isn’t offered in all schools and colleges, the Programme helps organise tuition for people who can’t do it through their school, but also encourages students at younger ages to consider taking the A-level through workshops and university visit days. They also run excellent training courses for teachers, and have a number of resources on their website for students and teachers, including problem solving materials, videos, podcasts and maths competitions.

According to a recent blog post by maths teacher Jo Morgan, a government review has made the FMSP’s future precarious. Their funding through the Department for Education will be removed next April, and they’ll be replaced by the “Level 3 Maths Support Programme”. The L3MSP will support Core Maths as well as A level mathematics and further mathematics, but will focus on only certain geographical areas, meaning many will lose access to the resources currently provided.

Two of the programmes previously supported by the same funding have already had their funding stopped – the Core Maths Support Programme, and Underground Maths – but the FMSP hasn’t finished yet, and Jo hopes that by contacting the DfE we could convince the government to continue funding it. As they point out in the blog post, the FMSP has made a huge difference to the numbers of students taking maths and has had a direct impact in classrooms supporting teachers all over the UK.

So what do we do? Start a petition? Tweet the DfE to tell them? Over to you, readers.

More information

Save the FMSP! on Resourceaholic