A new £7mn Maths Excellence Fund has launched to help schools in England improve maths skills in students, with a focus on those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Launched with support from founding donors XTX Markets and the Hg Foundation, the Maths Excellence Fund will be managed by Ark Ventures. It has been established to support schools in England to improve attainment and progression from 11-16 and 16-18 years of age, to increase the number of students who succeed in A-level maths and beyond.
The Fund draws on the Maths Excellence Pathways report, recently published by XTX Markets and the University of Nottingham. A longitudinal study, this examined which groups of students excel in maths, including where they join and leave the ‘excellence pathway’, and highlighted major disparities. This included that 74% of the most advantaged students stay on the excellence pathway from 11-16, compared with 49% of students on free school meals.
Simon Coyle, Head of Philanthropy at XTX Markets, commented:
“The Maths Excellence Pathways report shows that, when students from disadvantaged backgrounds are supported to excel in maths from 11 to 16, they are disproportionately likely to progress to maths degrees. The Maths Excellence Fund exists to help schools provide more students with those opportunities, and to develop effective programmes that can be expanded nationally in the future.”
The Fund will focus on evidence-led programmes that provide wide-ranging support to groups of schools in regions across England. Up to £7mn will be available for programme delivery, along with additional funding for an independent evaluation. Funding will be deployed over a period of five academic years, with delivery beginning in 2024/25.
Contracts are expected to be awarded to between three and six delivery partners, such as charities, multi-academy trusts, universities, local authorities or companies. Applications opened this month (June) and these contracts will be finalised by November 2023. The Fund will be overseen by an Advisory Board comprising education sector experts, including Professor Andy Noyes and Professor Becky Francis CBE, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation.
XTX Markets has committed the first £5mn in funding with the Hg Foundation committing a further £2mn, and the two will work closely with Ark Ventures to ensure that the Fund focuses on students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and that the resulting programmes are independently evaluated and can be scaled in future.
Ben Cartledge, Director at Ark Ventures, commented:
“This is an incredible commitment from XTX Markets and The Hg Foundation. The Maths Excellence Fund will boost improvements in maths by investing in ideas for maths education in England to drive systemic change. Ark Ventures is looking forward to working alongside the Fund’s partners to deliver its aims and cannot wait to see the applications from a range of organisations coming in.”
James Turner, Chief Executive at The Hg Foundation, added:
“We are delighted to be working on this new programme to help more pupils, especially those from low-income homes, to achieve at the highest levels in maths, which is a great foundation for future careers. By working over the long-term with expert partners, and through schools and teachers, we hope the Fund will not only have a positive impact on thousands of young people, but also leave a legacy of knowledge and practice that will help many others.”