Commenting on the Prime Minister’s plans for pupils to study maths up to the age of 18, Sir Peter Lampl, founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“Today’s announcement that the government will aim for all pupils in England to study maths until the age of 18 is welcome. Our current post-16 system forces young people to specialise way too early, making choices at age 15 that limit future opportunities. We need to move towards a broad and balanced approach to learning that allows pupils to keep studying a range of disciplines for as long as possible. Maths is a good first step. The government is right to recognise that A-level maths is not right for everyone – the focus should instead be on giving young people the practical maths skills that they need in the workplace and in their everyday lives.

“There are practical barriers to the plan, with teacher shortages being the main one. Schools in deprived areas have far too few specialist maths and science teachers. To make this policy a success, we need to recruit many more maths teachers for these schools.

“But maths is just the tip of the iceberg. The government should be bolder. Wherever you look, from France and Germany to the US and China, you find a broader and more balanced baccalaureate-style model of school-leaving certificate taking in at least six or seven subjects. This means that students can make subject and university choices much later, and they graduate from school with a far wider range of knowledge.

“Sunak’s ambitions to raise maths skills across the country are right and are to be welcomed, but it is just a small step in the right direction. We need to see more ambitious action.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • The Sutton Trust was founded by Sir Peter Lampl in 1997 to improve social mobility in Britain. The Trust has influenced government policy on more than 30 occasions; its programmes have to date given 50,000 young people the opportunity to change their lives; and it has published over 250 pieces of agenda-setting research.

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