Budget: Teachers doubt impact of maths cash

The Tes reports that teachers are doubtful that the government’s Budget pledge to provide £600 for each “additional” student studying maths at A level will leave their schools much better off.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said today in his Autumn Budget that schools will receive the money if they increase the number of students taking A-level maths, A-level further maths or core maths.

The method of calculating the number of “additional” pupils has not been confirmed yet and will be worked out with the Department for Education, a Treasury spokeswoman told Tes. The money is expected to be available from 2019.

But it is feared that the number of additional pupils studying maths at A level at each school – and therefore the amount of extra cash available – may be relatively small. This is because maths is already the most popular A-level subject, with 87,679 students sitting the exam in England in 2017. 

Sue Pope, of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, said  “Personally, I would like to see targeted funding to maintain core maths and further mathematics, as they are extremely vulnerable with the current way that post-16 is funded, which means colleges are funded for the equivalent of three A levels per student.”

Nick Brook,  deputy general secretary of the NAHT headteachers union, said the focus needed to be on recruiting more maths teachers rather than simply encouraging more pupils to study it. He said: “Schools already appreciate the value and importance of mathematics – this is not the issue. The biggest challenge facing schools is not an unwillingness to promote the virtues of the subject but a shortage of teachers able to teach it.

And the government has said it will test “innovative approaches” to improve GCSE maths resit outcomes by launching a £8.5 million pilot. There has been widespread criticism of the resit policy as success rates are low, with just one in four pupils over 17 achieving a C grade this summer.

The government has also said it will give £40 million to establish Further Education Centres of Excellence across the country to train maths teachers and spread best practice.

Read more Budget: Teachers doubt impact of maths cash

Please tell us your thoughts about the Budget in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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