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Engaging teenagers in Maths and English can often feel like an uphill struggle – particularly if their levels of numeracy and literacy are low. It’s even more of a challenge to emphasise and convince them then that these are probably the two most important subjects to focus on when planning their career path.

Where being a celebrity is now a very popular answer to ‘what career do you think you want’ and then specific replies being that being either a footballer, model or reality TV star is at the top of the list, there’s a falling perception in some teenagers that Maths and English are of any value. Popular culture has created a world where young adults feel that these jobs are an instant gateway to fame and fortune, but even these responses can be backed up by teachers that core subjects are just as important as any other job.

The life of a celebrity

The rise of the celebrity over the last decade has given the false perception that there’s a 15 minutes of fame out there for everyone – and a salary to accompany it. However, even if these are the chosen jobs of some of the year group with a refusal to believe that Maths and English have any relevance, the answer is to explain that all these jobs require good English to read the contracts they will need to sign and good skills in maths to know how much money they have in the bank and how to ensure they are receiving the money they should be.

High-flying jobs still need ground-level qualifications

Working for a car giant is an incredibly exciting prospect. Even more so when there’s the chance to get a job at entry level as an Apprentice and through proving the desire to climb the ladder, having an amazing career in store after just a few years. For any would-be mechanic, car designer or pupil starry-eyed at the thought of the glamour of working within the racing industry, the facts are there to show how these subjects are needed from day one. Mercedes offered an incredible 5000 Apprenticeship opportunities: a stunning chance for so many to find their dream job. A colossal 30,000 applied and many would feel it a mountain to climb to choose suitable candidates. The truth was though that whilst the applicant numbers were through the roof, there were comparatively very few with the levels of basic Maths and English required to be offered a place on the scheme.

Ensuring maths and English are relevant to life

For teenagers to understand the importance of these subjects in their future life, the teaching of literacy and numeracy should be as life relevant as possible. All elements of the curriculum can have social, community or career-related angles applied to them and through teaching the skills in this manner, there will be more acceptance that they need to work hard and to lift or maintain their engagement in these areas.

Half of all school leavers don’t achieve a grade A*-C at GCSE English and Maths and this is hindering their life choices from the day they walk through the school gate. The more which can be done to correlate these subjects to real life scenarios and possible career choices, the more pupils will understand that whether they want to play for England or walk down the catwalks of Milan, reading, writing and knowing their numbers play as important a role as being able to score a penalty or to know how to look great in a designer dress.