Maths skills are key to “cutting edge” jobs of the future, said the Chancellor. There will be financial incentives to boost maths after the age of 16, after concerns that too many drop the subject after GCSEs. From 2019 schools will receive an extra £600 for every pupil taking maths or further maths A-level or core maths above current levels.
Professor Frank Kelly, chair of the Royal Society’s advisory committee on mathematics education supported the increased uptake of maths. He concluded “Mathematics is essential for understanding the modern world and provides the foundations for economic prosperity.”
But Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL heads’ union, said extra cash for maths was a “drop in the ocean” and schools would still face real-terms cuts.
He warned that the funding offer for maths could create a “perverse incentive to enter students on to maths courses which might not necessarily be the best option for them”.
He also raised concerns that it would be “unfair” that schools that had already increased their number of maths A-levels students would miss out on extra funding.
Schools are continually struggling to recruit computer science teachers – therefore over the next four years there will be an additional £84m to train 12,000 more staff qualified to teach the subject which will be supported by a new National Centre for Computing.
There was also a call for proposals for maths specialist schools to be opened.
Underperforming schools in England will be receive an extra £42m over the next three years which will be used to provide extra training to “improve the quality of teaching.” This means teachers in the selected school will have the opportunity of £1,000 worth of training.
There will also be a national re-training scheme for adults, in partnership with the CBI and the TUC, with an initial £30m to teach digital skills.
Further education colleges were promised £20m to prepare for the so-called “T-level” qualifications, which will be for vocational subjects.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the lack of movement on student debt and warned that schools in England would be “5% worse off by 2019.”
Many school leaders were left disappointed and angered that there was no extra cash for core school spending.
Paul White, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers said “It would now be “impossible for many schools to avoid making redundancies.”
Just last month the heads of 5,000 schools had visited Downing Street calling for £1.7bn to be put back into the school budget. After today’s budget this request fell on deaf ears.
The lack of movement on school funding would leave “parents and teachers deeply disappointed,” said the National Education Union.
Jo Yurky, a parent campaigner over school funding, said the spending plans were “out of touch with the concerns of parents” and that the maths announcement was “tinkering around the edges with gimmicky ideas.”
Kevin Courtney, joint leader of the National Education Union, said: “The Budget, with no significant new money for education, shows that the Government has chosen to ignore the anger of parents and the clear evidence of the problems being created by real terms cuts to education.”
November 22, 2017