As much as I disliked maths at school, I don't think it should be optional at 14. Not taking maths does limit career choices, even if the significance of the subject isn't realised.
What needs to happen is, as Margaret Brown suggested (August 13), an improvement in the syllabus. This should make maths relevant to real-life problems.
If pupils see it as having a purpose then they will be enthused. Giving back enthusiasm, in my opinion, is more important than making it optional.