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Mathematics Teaching

Volume 552: debated on Monday 29 October 2012

I agree that mathematics teaching is a major issue. It is the subject with the highest teacher shortage, and we know that maths skills are vital for students. We are working to attract top graduates, with bursaries of up to £20,000. By increasing maths take-up between the ages of 16 to 18 we will increase the pipeline of people going into the maths teaching profession.

Does the Minister agree that teaching factual financial education, such as calculating APRs and tariffs, should be an integral part of the maths curriculum, and will she meet me to discuss the work of the all-party group on financial education for young people?

I completely agree that it is very important for students to be financially literate. In order to be financially literate they need to be mathematically fluent. That is why we are going to have higher expectations in topics such as using and understanding money, working with percentages, and positive and negative numbers. We are also looking at limiting the use of calculators in the early years of primary school so that students achieve proper fluency in calculations. I believe I am due to meet my hon. Friend in only a couple of minutes’ time, but I am happy to have a further meeting with him on this issue.

Great maths teaching was instrumental in enabling me to go on to a career in STEM, and it is absolutely critical in helping us to rebalance our economy. The Secretary of State is turning our locally accountable schools into academies, so can the Minister tell me what minimum qualifications or standards she will put in place for maths teaching in academies?

What is important in academies—and, indeed, in all schools—is that we give the head teachers the maximum autonomy and flexibility to recruit the best possible people. As the hon. Lady knows, the issue we face is that although maths is the highest earning subject at degree level and A-level, it is very hard to recruit teachers. We are looking at every possible avenue to increase the level of people coming into studying and teaching maths. That will increase the pipeline, which in turn will make sure academy head teachers have the best possible pool of teachers to draw on.