The Maths in Action project is an initiative funded by first direct, and delivered in partnership with Leeds Beckett and Global Investor Simulations.
Stock Market Challenge enables students to apply their knowledge of mathematics and business, and helps them to develop their communication, problem-solving, decision making, teambuilding and negotiation skills.
The initiative aims to help students leave school or college prepared for the world of work with the capabilities and confidence to handle future higher education and career decisions. It also supports the local financial services sector in its need to create a world-class competitive workforce.
Sylvia Barber, Widening Participation Project Officer at Leeds Beckett said: “Stock Market Challenge allows major employers like first direct to work with local schools and communities and gives students an insight into the wide range of higher education opportunities available as they develop ideas about future careers. Our young people have much to offer, so it is essential that we support the further development of their skills and knowledge.
“At Leeds Beckett we think it is essential we focus on developing the qualifications and skills of our young people, to ensure the appropriate skills base is in place to take advantage of the job opportunities now and in the future. Initiatives such as the Stock Market Challenge provide us with an opportunity to introduce the university to young people while also helping our next generation of business leaders to consider a high value qualification in finance, banking or accounting.”
Joe Gordon, Head of first direct, said: “Stock Market Challenge is a fantastic way for young people from schools across the region to build their understanding of the business world while developing their skills and having fun. The initiative gives pupils the opportunity to apply their learning at school to a highly realistic financial setting, while bringing their own fresh perspective.”
The events involved 100 year eight and year nine students from local schools: Allerton Grange, Allerton High School, Cardinal Heenan RC High School, Castleford Academy, Guiseley School, Halifax Academy, Laisterdyke Academy, Roundhay School, and Ryburn Valley High School.
Working in teams, their task was to manage a fund of shares and foreign currency by interpreting information and investing in the markets. The team with the highest total fund at the closing bell of each competition were the winners.
The events were supported by colleagues from first direct who participated as ‘traders’ to recreate a ‘real time’ trading floor. The bank also provided the prizes and, with Leeds Beckett University ambassadors and staff, were on hand to provide teachers and students with guidance and information about opportunities in the sector and relevant courses at the university.
Sami Khan, a member of Roundhay High School’s winning team at the event, said: “The most valuable thing I learnt about today was the importance of team work.” Sami now hopes to build on his experiences by using “his maths skills and applying them to his business studies course.”
Lesley Tate, a teacher from Roundhay High School, added: “The event showcased maths in the workplace and gave the students the opportunity to work together under pressure.”