Wiltshire Council: Meaningful learning experiences

Wiltshire Council’s Climate Team supported a research project aiming to bring Maths to life for Year 7 students. Partnered with a Maths Teacher from a local school, the team developed a challenge to support their Statistics module – using real data from the Council’s public consultation on its draft Climate Strategy. The project focused on Mean, Median, Mode and Range at the level required for Year 7. Students created tally charts, bar charts and pictograms, calculated emissions, money savings and funding, and analysed how Wiltshire residents feel about climate change and the Council’s plans.

The challenge

How to develop careers-related enrichment activities that complement the Maths curriculum, helping students to understand the relevance of their classroom learning to their future career aspirations. Introducing students to role models so that they understand how their lessons are relevant to real work and future careers. Showcasing employment sectors that align to the maths topic and are relevant to the students’ current interests, such as climate change.

The solution

In partnership with the local Careers Hub, Wiltshire Council’s Climate Officer worked with the John of Gaunt School maths team to develop a series of four challenges. These challenges were aimed at helping students to develop employability skills, as well as applying what they had learned about Mean, Median, Mode and Range. Each topic referred to the ‘Wiltshire Draft Climate Strategy’ and explained to the students that Climate Officers use maths in lots of ways. Including calculating emissions, money savings and funding, as well as in statistics about what people think about climate change and planning.

The challenges required students to create graphs that showed the extent to which survey respondents agree with the objectives of the climate strategy. They needed to establish what the mean, median and mode age/income of those who did not agree with the climate strategy. They also needed to create a pictogram to show the different emissions levels from three countries. The students presented their findings to Councillor Reay, Portfolio holder for Climate Change.

The impact

Wiltshire Council’s plans to tackle climate change provided real data for the classroom tasks and enabled the Year 7 students to apply what they had learned in maths lessons in a realistic work-related scenario, showing them the value in being able to effectively use statistics. Such an approach had benefits for the students, the school, and Wiltshire Council as an employer.

Benefits for the students

The project helped to achieve a stated objective, enabling students to draw graphs and use averages to tell and make a convincing argument, as well as teaching them to interpret data and spot mistakes in other people’s use of data. Students also got to work on a climate related project, that gave them experience and insight to the work done in the sector.

‘I definitely feel that my class were really engaged with the project and still managed to learn what they needed to in that topic’. - ‘They did come in at lunch it was really sweet to see them working so hard’.

Benefits for the school

‘They loved having all the people come to visit and they were really confident giving their presentations, which was really nice.’ ‘It was great for them to hear about someone using maths in their jobs.’ ‘My class were creative as they made a poster and an ad campaign. Their speaking was amazing – some who I thought for sure wouldn't want to present, got up there and did fantastically.’ ‘I came in with high expectations and it has definitely met those.’

Benefits for the employer

The project helped to communicate the Council’s objectives on Climate Change to young people, which included becoming carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030, making sure that the council massively cuts its carbon footprint and that any remaining carbon dioxide that is generated by the council is offset, as well as providing leadership locally and nationally for other organisations to do the same.

How is the approach being sustained?

The Maths Team at John of Gaunt School would like to repeat the project in 2023, having learned some lessons during the pilot project. The intention is to expand the project to include the whole of Year 7 – an increase from 30 to 250 students participating. The resources could be introduced to other schools, depending on the capacity of the Wiltshire Council team to support the in-person elements.

Lessons learned

Through the research project, the Careers Hub established a number of principles that will guide any employer-led careers enrichment during subject lessons:

  • the project must be a partnership between the teacher and the employer, in order to ensure that challenges are appropriate, achievable and engaging for students
  • challenges must be differentiated to enable all students, whatever their ability, to achieve a positive outcome at a level appropriate for them
  • employer-led challenges must address stereotypes and under-representation, promoting diversity, equality, and ensuring that all students feel included.


Jaime Williamson, Enterprise Coordinator, Swindon and Wiltshire Careers Hub

[email protected]