Thank you for your interest in the Institute for Enquiring Minds.

The Institute is a not-for-profit business, based in the Brunswick area of Melbourne, dedicated to helping under-resourced school students improve their maths skills. The motivating principle is that by working one-on-one with enthusiastic experts, young people can be helped to reset their mathematical self-belief and expectations of success.

To those who could most benefit from but least afford individualized mathematical support we aim to provide free, high quality, one-on-one mathematical mentoring.

Please take a moment to find out more about our vision and proposed programmes. Perhaps then you’d like to register your interest in helping us to start changing the lives of young people for the better? If you are the parent/guardian/teacher of a student who you think might benefit from what we provide, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Mathematical mentoring: One-on-one tutoring, typically two hours a week after school in either one or two sessions. The usual approach will be to start by working through the school-set homework. A student who has completed the set homework will feel more confident and engaged in class. Time permitting, with the homework completed, technique and knowledge gaps will be addressed (e.g. negative numbers, fractions, algebraic manipulation) and, for year 11 and 12 students, past VCE exam questions will be tackled. A small amount of homework may be set by the tutor. Students must formally enrol for the mentoring program. The program will run according to the school calendar and, after an initial trial session to ensure compatibility with the tutor, students will be obliged to commit to a full term. Mentoring places will be limited and students and parents should be aware that cancelation without notice will result in the place being lost.

Supervised workgroups: Groups of up to five students to meet once or twice a week for supervised problem-solving sessions. Particularly in the run up to VCE exams these will involve past exam questions being tackled under exam conditions with the solutions then being reviewed and discussed. Sessions will typically run for at least 2 hours.

Weekend homework clinic: Free homework help on a first come first served basis. No need to enrol. Once we have a venue up and running volunteers will simply be on hand during set hours each school term weekend to help out anyone aged 8-18 with their school maths homework.

Mathematical reading circles: Informal maths and physics reading groups will meet at The Institute. Perhaps you want to learn/relearn quantum mechanics or general relativity? Is there a popular science book that you’d like to read and feel that the structure and support provided by regular meetings with other like-minded readers would be beneficial? Submit a reading circle suggestion and we’ll reach out to our extensive network of “mathphiles” to drum up interest. In some cases notes from these “circles” would be maintained at the Institute’s maths and physics virtual library, constituting a high quality resource useful to learners far beyond the physical reach of The Institute.


Gender issues in Australian education

Setting the scene The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index (GGI) (e.g. WEF, 2016) measures the gap between men and women with respect to: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival. It is often called the “emancipation index” and is a number between 0 and 1 with 1 representing gender …


The Institute for Enquiring Minds will be a not-for-profit business dedicated to helping under-resourced school students improve their maths skills. Our motivating principle is that by working one-on-one with enthusiastic experts, young people can be helped to reset their mathematical self-belief and expectations of success.

We are a community based volunteer initiative looking to provide a range of free, high-quality, mathematics-focused support to students aged 8-18. Although we would like to see the project expand to cover other areas of Melbourne and beyond, our initial focus is on Brunswick and the surrounding suburbs. This is a vibrant, diverse, inner city community with a high density of university students and academics as well as a great many young people for whom our programs could be life changing.

Central to our mission will be our mathematical mentoring program. Adults, so passionate about mathematics and education that they are willing to donate a couple of hours a week to share their enthusiasm and knowledge, will be connected with motivated learners for whom private tutoring would otherwise be out of reach. We will bring together the young people of our community who could most benefit from, but least afford, individualised mathematical support with volunteers from a broad spectrum of backgrounds all of whom have a desire to share their love of maths. Students will be required to enrol for the mentoring program – this is typically a longer term commitment with places limited by desk space and volunteer bandwidth. Our priority will be to help young people from less privileged backgrounds but we understand that the need for mathematical support cuts through the social hierarchy. Volunteer numbers permitting, we will therefore also offer some paid tutoring with the income contributing toward the further growth of our core free programs. Recognising the systemic gender gap in mathematical achievement we will specifically encourage girls to participate in our programs, aiming to work with a gender-balanced group of students.

Building strong relationships with local schools will be vital for our success. The Institute should be regarded by teachers as a high quality resource, available to complement the hard work already being done in classrooms day in and day out. Indeed, The Institute will rely on teachers to identify those students for whom The Institute’s mentoring programme would be particularly appropriate. We view this as the most effective way of reaching the young people and their families who wouldn’t normally consider tutoring. Teacher’s will also be key in helping us identify each student’s particular learning needs and tracking student progress.

To begin with, we’ll work with schools, local libraries and sporting associations to obtain desk space as required. However, as soon as possible, we would like The Institute to have a physical presence in the heart of the community it serves — a “shop front” on or near Sydney Road. On weekdays after school this “shop” would be the scheduled meeting place of enrolled students with their mentors. At weekends we would offer a more flexible drop-in “homework clinic” with no need for enrolment — first come first served. This potentially leaves the venue free to operate as a coworking space outside of these hours — a possible source of income for the Institute. We would hope that by encouraging local creatives and artists to rent workspace from us and by inviting them to help create an exciting and distinctive identity for The Institute, a venue will be created which is far removed from the classroom. The Institute will not feel like “the place where kids who need help with maths come.”

Without volunteers, of course, all of the this is a chimera. So how and from what source are these volunteers going to be tapped? We are lucky to have the committed support of two internationally renowned mathematicians based here in Melbourne. Professor Arun Ram and Professor Terry Speed will help us reach out, through professional bodies such as Aust MS (Australian Mathematical Society) and AMSI (Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute),  local universities and, of course, their own extensive personal networks, to Melbourne’s broader mathematical community. Our primary focus will be attracting retirees, both academic and industrial, and current under- and post-graduate university students. Every time we take on a new student we are pledging to engage positively over an extended period in that young person’s future. At the same time we are defining and building our reputation. Our growth will therefore be as rapid as is possible whilst maintaining the highest standards. The quality of what we offer is paramount — it might be free but it must also be the best available.

As The Institute grows we will need to attract funding. Aside of course from renting premises, there will be expenses and work associated with, for example, establishing The Institute as an appropriate legal entity, interviewing prospective volunteers, developing and maintaining our online infrastructure and producing and coordinating advertising to attract volunteers. Conscious of the chicken and egg nature of establishing sponsorship we will initially self-fund. However, whether it be through establishing local business partnerships, successfully lobbying for local, state or federal grants or securing a corporate trust or foundation endowment, we aim to have brought in meaningful external capital by the time our 10th student is enrolled on the mentoring program.

Please find details of some of our planed range of programmes here. If you’re interested in volunteering then please register your interest. For any other enquiries please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The founder of the Institute for Enquiring Minds is Dr Andrew Jacobs. Having trained as a theoretical physicist at St. Andrews and Cambridge Universities, Andrew worked for a few years as an academic before becoming a quant for Deutsche Bank in London (2000-2012). After leaving London, Andrew and his family were based in Munich, where he successfully piloted a small-scale version of The Institute before settling here in Melbourne. Andrew has a broad range of educational experience including university and high school teaching as well as one-on-one tutoring from primary school to undergraduate university level.

Andrew’s partner in the business is Dr Doug Lynch MA MBBS MPHTM PGCEH(Aeromedicine) PGC (Disaster Management & Refugee Health). Doug is a critical care doctor who has specialised in medical education. Doug has taught at multiple Australian hospitals and universities, he is a former head of education at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland) and has a strong association with the Free Open Access Medical Education movement.