ASCL comment on Prime Minister’s reaffirmation of maths to 18

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Prime Minister’s planned speech reaffirming his ambition to ensure every young person studies some form of maths up to the age of 18.
It is hard to understand why the Prime Minister is rehashing his ambition of maths to 18 having only announced this policy in January and with no further detail of what it will entail or how it will be delivered. It seems like an attempt to divert attention away from the most pressing matter in education in England which is the industrial dispute triggered by the erosion of teacher pay and conditions and resulting crisis in recruiting and retaining enough staff.

“These severe shortages directly undermine the Prime Minister’s ambition because it means there are not enough maths teachers to deliver even the existing requirements let alone extend maths to every pupil to the age of 18. The purpose of the policy is puzzling as maths is already the most popular A-level subject and pupils who do not pass GCSE maths with at least a Grade 4 are already required to continue to study the subject in post-16 education. This policy then would apply to pupils who are already sufficiently numerate to pass GCSE maths at Grade 4 or better but do not continue with the subject to A-level. Does the Prime Minister think the existing GCSE is not good enough despite it recently being reformed by the government?

“Instead of re-announcing a vague and poorly thought-out policy it would be more helpful if he instead focused on resolving the industrial dispute