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Unlocking the World of Numbers: A Conversation with Karen McGuigan, The Maths Mum


In a recent interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with Karen McGuigan, fondly known as The Maths Mum and the driving force behind Maths for Life. This unique initiative was born out of a deep desire to empower parents to support their children's math education effectively. Join me as we explore the inspiration behind Maths for Life and gain insights into its innovative approach to teaching mathematics.

The Genesis of Maths for Life:

Karen McGuigan's journey into the world of math education was inspired by a simple yet profound idea—parents actively engaging with their children's math homework. The concept stemmed from conversations about math concepts taking place in a way that children could comprehend, making these discussions relatable to real-world scenarios. The result was Maths for Life, a program designed to bridge the gap between traditional math education and a more practical, everyday understanding of mathematical concepts.

Overview of Maths for Life:

Maths for Life is aimed at students for whom the standard maths national curriculum structure and timescale may seem unattainable. While aligned with the National Curriculum content, Maths for Life prioritises 'readiness to progress' over the passage of time. This approach ensures that students grasp mathematical skills thoroughly before moving forward, fostering a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the subject.

The Unique Curriculum:

Karen sheds light on how the Maths for Life curriculum differs from the mainstream approach. Instead of rigidly adhering to a set timescale, the program places emphasis on the attainment of skills, ensuring that students are well-prepared to navigate mathematical concepts at their own pace.

A Glimpse into a Typical Lesson:

During the interview, Karen provides a snapshot of what a typical Maths for Life lesson looks like. The focus is on practical applications, bringing mathematical concepts into real-world settings. The goal is to instill the ability to perform simple math accurately, independently, and in real-life situations.

Supporting Children with Dyscalculia:

While time constraints prevented a detailed discussion on this topic, Karen briefly touches upon recommendations for children with dyscalculia. It's clear that Maths for Life is not just about mathematical proficiency; it's about inclusivity and ensuring that every child, regardless of their learning differences, can experience success in the world of numbers.

A Personal Touch:

Karen's inspiration to establish Maths for Life has a deeply personal connection. Her son, born with Down Syndrome, fueled her passion for equipping him with the skills needed to live independently in today's world. The guiding principle—simple maths done accurately, independently, and in real life—is not just a mission statement; it's a commitment to empowering individuals with practical and essential mathematical skills.


As Karen McGuigan continues her journey with Maths for Life, we eagerly await updates on the outcomes for Levels 3 and 4. The initiative stands as a testament to the transformative power of making math education accessible, practical, and inclusive. Maths for Life not only equips students with mathematical proficiency but empowers them to navigate the world with confidence, one calculated step at a time. Stay tuned for future conversations with Karen as she shares insights into the progress and impact of Maths for Life.

If you would like maths help from tutors who understand how children with special needs work check out our website and see who our tutors are - 
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