On the 4th January, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his plans for mathematics to be studied until the age of 18. 

 

For his first speech of 2023, Mr Sunak announced he wanted school leavers to ‘feel confident’ with everyday maths such as paying their household bills or negotiating mortgages. ‘In a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job, letting our children out into that world without those skills is letting our children down,’ Mr Sunak stated. 

 

However, critics have highlighted the severe shortage of maths teachers in the UK, and cannot foresee a future for this plan. Following this announcement, the Association of Schools and College Leaders told the BBC that this plan was currently unachieable due to a ‘severe shortage of maths teachers’.The National Foundation For Educational Research concurred - their survey of secondary schools in England confirmed that in 2021, non-specialist teachers were used to teach maths lessons in 45% of schools. 

 

In response to the plan, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Philipson wanted Sunak to ‘show his working’ for how the increase of participation in maths will be funded. Furthermore, a question asked by many was what will happen to the arts and humanities subjects, or the Btec qualifications? 

 

In response, a Downing Street Spokesperson said the government is exploring ways to expand existing qualifications as well as ‘more innovative options.’ Although the intention seems positive, both the public and teachers are yet to be convinced of a realistic approach to improving the curriculum in schools across England.