Q-Step inaugural event

The first Q-Step conference, Counting them in: quantitative social science and the links between secondary and higher education was held on 17 March 2014. This one day event explored ways to strengthen quantitative social science training through the links between secondary and higher education. It was held at the Royal Society and attended by teachers, examiners, university lecturers, awarding bodies, learned societies and subject associations. 

Keynote speakers include the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, Sir Andrew Dilnot CBE, Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority and Dr Rita Gardner CBE, Director of the Royal Geographical Society. Their presentations are available to watch/download below. 

1. Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science
The importance of quantitative skills for social science – the view from BIS

2. Sir Andrew Dilnot CBE, Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority
Don't leave it only to economists: why quantitative skills are needed across the social sciences and beyond (PDF)

3. Josh Hillman, Director of Education, Nuffield Foundation

Mathematics after 16: state of play, challenges, and ways ahead (PDF)

This is a selection of Josh's slides from the conference. His presentation has since been written up into a report: Mathematics after 16: the state of play, challenges and ways ahead (PDF)

4. Dr Rita Gardner, Director, Royal Geographical Society

Explorations of a learned society: the RGS-IBG work to promote quantitative skills (PDF)

5. Sharon Witherspoon, Director, Nuffield Foundation

Why Q-Step? Hopes for wider change (PDF)

More about the Q-Step conference

The UK has a shortage of social science graduates with the quantitative skills needed to evaluate evidence, analyse data, and design and commission research, skills that are increasingly in demand from employers across all sectors. Yet fewer post-16 students in the UK study maths and statistics than any other comparable country, and quantitative skills are not consistently assessed in social science A levels. This has lead to a skills deficit amongst students moving from secondary to higher education.

The conference addressed some key questions:

  • How can schools provide more options for students to learn quantitative skills post-16, and encourage students to choose these options?
  • What impact will forthcoming government reforms such as the revision of GCSE and A level specification and the introduction of a post-16 core maths qualification have?
  • How can universities encourage more students to study quantitative social science by strengthening the pathways from school to university?
  • What could be done to encourage students interested in social science to stick with quantitative skills and also to interest students with strong quantitative skills to consider social science?