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Maths Teaching

Volume 731: debated on Monday 17 April 2023

The Prime Minister has set out a campaign to transform our national approach to maths. We are one of the few countries in the OECD where young people do not routinely study some form of maths up to the age of 18. Without a solid foundation in this subject, our young people risk being left behind and shut out of the careers to which they aspire and the lives they want to lead. We plan to change the way our system works so that everyone will study some form of maths to 18.

So, today I am announcing an expert advisory group to advise the Prime Minister and me on the essential maths knowledge and skills that young people need to study. To support the group, the Government will commission research on post-16 maths provision around the world, ensuring the curriculum in this country rivals that of the highest performing countries. Alongside this, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education will work with employers to review the maths content in apprenticeships.

Since 2010, the Government have transformed the way maths is taught in schools, based on the best available international evidence, including approaches from the highest performing countries in the world. Supported by 40 maths hubs—exemplary schools in the teaching of maths—and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, mastery-based pedagogy from south-east Asia has been adopted by more than half of England’s primary schools. In the 2019 TIMSS international survey, year 5 pupils in England achieved their highest ever maths score.

To complement evidence-based approaches to maths teaching and content, the Government introduced more challenging assessments at both primary and secondary schools, including the times tables check in year 4, new key stage 2 maths tests, and reformed GCSEs and A-levels. These assessments ensure that children are taught and master the basics of mathematics, before tackling more demanding content. The success of these approaches was reflected in England’s highest mathematics PISA results for 15-year-olds in 2019.

To continue this progress, the Government are today also announcing:

An increase in the number of schools supported by the maths hubs Teaching for Mastery programme to reach 75% of primary schools and 65% of secondary schools by 2025. We will introduce intensive maths hubs support for the schools that need it most. We will also provide further support for teachers of 16 to 19-year-olds who are resitting their maths GCSE or functional skills qualifications.

An expansion of the Mastering Number programme, which helps children in the first years of primary school master the basics of arithmetic, including number bonds and times tables. This programme will be delivered by maths hubs, reaching over 8,000 schools by 2024. We will also expand the programme into years 4 and 5 to bolster fluency in times tables.

An expansion of the Taking Teaching Further programme, delivering funding for further education (FE) colleges to recruit and offer early career support to those with the relevant knowledge and industry experience to retrain as FE teachers. We will launch a financial incentive pilot this year for up to 355 teachers, targeted at some of the hardest-to-fill subjects, including maths.

A new fully funded maths National Professional Qualification for those leading maths in primary schools, teaching participants how to train other teachers to embed mastery pedagogy. We expect to make this available to all primary schools from February 2024. We will offer an updated targeted support fund for the 2023-24 academic year, providing additional funding to incentivise primary school teachers and leaders, including in the smallest schools.

Today’s announcement sets out how we will deliver the Prime Minister’s ambition to see all young people study maths to the age of 18 and ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the modern economy.