Maths premium welcome, but recruitment woes remain

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

While welcoming details of plans to introduce a £600 maths premium, school leaders have once again raised what they see as the real barrier to increasing maths up-take at A level – the recruitment of qualified teachers.

The premium, which was announced in last autumn’s Budget, will see schools given a £600 payment for every additional young person aged 16 to 18 who takes an advanced maths qualification.

The Department for Education (DfE) says the premium will help to “create additional places and resources to support teaching of advanced maths”.

From September 2018, schools and colleges will receive the premium for each additional pupil taking the one-year AS maths or the core maths qualification. This could mean £1,200 for each additional pupil who takes the two-year A level in maths or further maths.

Students will need to have a prior attainment equivalent to GCSE grade 9 to 4 or A* to C in maths to be eligible for the premium and there will be no cap on the numbers of eligible pupils for the funding. Schools standards minister Nick Gibb said: “Although maths remains the most popular subject at A level, this premium will open up the opportunity for even more young people to study advanced maths qualifications, providing them with the knowledge and skills for future success.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that with budgets “desperately close to breaking point”, schools will welcome any additional funding. However, he is concerned that the premium is missing the point.

He said: “Maths is already the most popular subject at A level and the government has failed for many years now to meet its own recruitment targets for maths teachers.

“Schools already appreciate the value of mathematics – their biggest challenge is finding teachers qualified to teach it.”

The government has missed its secondary teacher recruitment targets for five years running now, with mathematics among those subjects hit hard. For 2017/18, the initial teacher training figures released late last year show that only 79 per cent of the maths target has been recruited. In 2016/17, only 82 per cent were recruited.

It means that while across both years, 6,204 trainee maths teachers were required, only 4,995 were recruited.

Mr Whiteman added: “Rather than cherry-picking individual subjects to fund, school leaders would ask the government to look urgently at school funding overall, and to concentrate on its key duty: providing sufficient money and teachers to schools so that they can continue to provide an excellent, balanced, education for all.”


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