Mural at Banbury secondary school celebrates women and diversity in mathematics

“The mural has got the students talking about people in maths in a positive way.”

Wykham Park Academy students Geoffrey Woodward and Chloe Watts stand in front of a maths mural at the school with its artist - Lucy Barnes (photo from the school)
Wykham Park Academy students Geoffrey Woodward and Chloe Watts stand in front of a maths mural at the school with its artist - Lucy Barnes (photo from the school)

A Banbury secondary school has created a special mural designed to celebrate women and diversity in mathematics.

Artist Lucy Ward is the talent behind the creative work which runs across an entire wall of the maths corridor at Wykham Park Academy.

An image of Florence Nightingale sits alongside those of mathematicians Alan Turing and Srinirash Ramanujan in addition to various equations and maths problems.

Sylvia Thomas, Wykham Park’s principal, said the aim of the mural was to change the perceptions students might have about maths.

She said: “Maths is traditionally seen by students as a difficult subject and abstract and not seen as real. What we wanted to do was encourage people to talk about mathematics in a different way, and to see how important the role of mathematics is in everyday tasks and jobs. For example, Florence Nightingale is included in the mural because she did a lot of work with statistics.

“It’s also important the mural reflects the diversity that exists in the world of mathematics, hence including both men and women of different ethnicities.

“The mural has got the students talking about people in maths in a positive way.”

To celebrate the launch of the mural, the students participated in World Maths Day, a global event which took place online.

Two students from Wykham Park – Chloe Watts and Geoffrey Woodward did exceptionally well. Chloe ranked 91st out of over 11,000 students worldwide and Geoffrey was ranked 1284 out of 30,000.

Ms Thomas added: “Chloe and Geoffrey did themselves proud competing against children across the world. We fully expect to see them in our outstanding sixth form in a few years time studying further maths.”

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This academic year has seen a greater emphasis on promoting diversity and inclusivity at Wykham Park where three new guiding values have been introduced: kindness, community and inclusivity.

Staff now nominate students for special mentions or rewards for fulfilling these categories.

The new values build on the three guiding principles already in place at the school, which include self-worth, engagement and purpose.

Ms Thomas said: “The upheaval caused by Covid and the lockdowns that followed have impacted on the sense of community.

‘’It’s hoped the various changes we’ve made around the school and to the curriculum and the introduction of new clubs will give the students a greater feeling of acceptance and belonging.

“Rewarding the students for acts of kindness - whether that’s picking up litter or lending another student a pen - is also important because it’s about understanding that kindness brings happiness and a sense of community.”

The history lessons offered to key stage 3 students now include the experiences of black people in Tudor England, looking at the Black Lives Matter protests and the experience of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history.

Other subjects include looking at the influence of the British Empire and a focus on the Windrush generation.

A Pride Club for everyone, whether they are LGBTQ+ or an ally, is now a permanent fixture.