The 1990’s was a defining moment in the development of mathematics support provision in further and higher education. There was increasing concern expressed about the mathematical preparedness of students entering colleges and universities, and reports such as “The Changing Mathematical Background of Undergraduate Engineers (Sutherland & Pozzi, 1995) and “Tackling the Mathematics Problem” (London Mathematical Society, et. al., 1995) brought this issue to wider attention.
Against this backdrop emerged a group of enthusiastic and committed staff from both the FE and HE sectors who were keen to establish mechanisms to support students with their mathematical skills. In 1993 a national conference was organised by Ian Beveridge and Rakesh Bhanot at the (then) University of Luton, which attracted 66 delegates from across FE and HE. Out of this conference emerged the Mathematics Support Association, which was instrumental in articulating the hopes, needs and experiences of maths support practitioners during the period 1994 to 1999. A regular Newsletter was produced, archive copies of which are available below.
In many respects, the Mathematics Support Association was a fore-runner of the sigma Network today. Reading through the old MSA Newsletters, it is interesting to see how little has changed in the quintessential need for maths support, while at the same time so much has changed in the social and political context. In the 1990’s, the talk was generally of “Maths Workshops” rather than “Maths Support Centres”, reflecting the fact that in many cases it was Further Education colleges who led the way in setting up resource-based drop-in study locations for student-centred maths learning. We are indebted to Beveridge, Bhanot and others of 25 years ago for their foresight and commitment to the cause of maths support.
Mathematics Support Association Newsletter archive: