The chancellor gave a timely and welcome boost to schools in his Budget statement when he announced £40m of funding to train maths teachers across the country.
Addressing MPs, Philip Hammond spoke of the need to prepare pupils for the digital economy and said one of the best ways was to improve maths teaching. “Knowledge of maths is key to the hi-tech, cutting edge jobs in our digital economy,” he said.
School’s will also be encouraged to promote maths at further education with the promise schools will get £600 for every extra pupil who takes A-level or core maths.
solving the maths teacher conundrum.
It wasn’t quite what headteachers had hoped for - 5,000 cosigned a letter to the prime minister recently asking for an additional £1.7bn - but there’s no doubt something had to be done to recruit more maths teachers.
There’s a nationwide shortage of maths teachers with our own data showing positions are becoming harder to fill with fewer applications this year than in 2016 and 2015.
Overall, we’ve seen a five per cent decline in maths teacher applications this year, which is in line with the national trend. It’s not the only skills shortage the UK is experiencing but one of the most important to close if the country is to thrive in the post-Brexit digital world.
As well as recruitment, money is being diverted towards new specialist schools and £350,000 of extra funding a year will be ploughed into every one that is set up across the country.
While maths was the focus of Philip Hammond’s announcement there was money left over to fund a tripling of fully-qualified computer science teachers from 4,000 to 12,000.
Overall, the chancellor’s aim on maths and computer science is admirable but stopping short of promising additional funding heads - as well as keeping schtum on teacher pay increases - will no doubt leave him open to questions over whether the government is doing enough to help schools and teachers.