Labour plans for maths until 18 ‘best protection’ against unemployment

The Guardian is reporting that academics and policymakers have endorsed Labour’s plans to make all pupils in England study maths past the age of 16, arguing improved numeracy skills are the “best protection” against unemployment for young people…

Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, said all pupils at school would have to continue to study maths as part of Labour’s proposals, including an estimated 250,000 each year who pass GCSE maths with a C grade or higher but did not go on study maths at A-level… 

“Our future success as a nation depends on all young people taking maths to 18, so we set the next generation up to succeed in life and work and deliver the skills employers are demanding,” Hunt said, appearing at an event at Bletchley Park alongside Marcus du Sautoy, the professor of mathematics at Oxford University known for his BBC television series popularising maths, including The Code.

“It is essential that everyone is mathematically literate in this scientific age. That’s why ensuring all young people study maths to 18 is so important,” said du Sautoy…

The move was given public support by Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy, the charity formed to tackle poor maths skills in the UK…

Critics including the National Union of Teachers say that schools are already struggling to find qualified maths teachers, and Labour’s policy would need to overcome the shortage to be effective.


Do you support this move from Labour to make everyone at school continue to study maths post-16? Please tell us why/why not.

I find it interesting that today we have this proposal for everyone to study maths and also the suggestion that all students doing STEM subjects post-16 should also take an arts subject – a so-called STEAM approach.

Should we conclude that a broader curriculum for all post-16 is a better approach?

Thoughts and feedback? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Secondary.


  1. MrWestermanPE

    SchoolsImprove so logically PE until 18 could be our ‘best protection’ against obesity and health issues? #priorities

  2. wheelerofads

    SchoolsImprove So will all students have to take A-level Maths? Or will there be an in betweener? A super GCSE? Think it’s a good idea.

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Great idea – who will teach them & will curriculum become accessible to all? Just some minor points that need clearing up

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove MPs keep going on about this as if maths teachers are queuing around the block for work. They are not; there aren’t enough

  5. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove I bet all those potential hairdressers and carpenters can’t wait to get stuck into a few more simultaneous equations!

  6. andylutwyche

    wheelerofads SchoolsImprove No-one’s ever said this is a bad idea, problem is there’s no-one to teach it & curr is not accessible to many

  7. mathsontrack

    SchoolsImprove Needs to include effective teaching of numeracy, which is the main issue for too many. Good at numeracy = better at maths.

  8. CasbonCrichton

    SchoolsImprove Our future success depends on the nation building a job market that reflects the capabilities of our learners. Not like now!

  9. CasbonCrichton

    SchoolsImprove Politicians cannot meet the expectations of well educated young people and always find ways to denigrate their achievements

  10. lennyvalentino

    SchoolsImprove I wish they would add some detail to this policy. Eg Is it for *all* students? Even those with good GCSE grades in maths?

  11. @andylutwyche SchoolsImprove It’s essential maths at 16+ isn’t more of the same.  It’s life-sapping to repeat stuff.  Non-A level maths at 16+ should be linked to vocational courses students are taking (eg potential hairdressers could do maths about proportion of hair dye to chemicals; carpenters need to measure and work out quantities required) and/or more exciting maths.

  12. @MrWestermanPE SchoolsImprove There was a time, decades ago, when full-time students at our local FE college were expected to do an afternoon of PE related activities per week.

    That changed some time ago.  So-called ‘full-time’ courses are just lessons in whatever qualification is being studied and ‘free’ time.  But FE Colleges are businesses now, aren’t they?  More concerned with cutting costs.

  13. Is there any evidence that making students who struggle with maths aged 16 continue to 18 actually improves their maths?

    The problem needs to be tackled MUCH earlier.  ‘More of the same’ will (usually) not work.

  14. mathsontrack

    rrunsworth SchoolsImprove I agree fully Raj, good at reading = better at literacy, and early stages (early intervention) is so important.

  15. andylutwyche

    wheelerofads Nor_edu What politicians appear to excel in is ideas; practicality appears to be a weakness

  16. andylutwyche

    wheelerofads Nor_edu What politicians appear to excel in is ideas; practicality appears to be a weakness

Let us know what you think...