Rishi Sunak sets up ‘costly’ review into ‘anti-maths mindset’ as students could study subject until 18

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Rishi Sunak has set up a review of the UK’s ‘anti-maths mindset’ as the government aims to introduce compulsory maths for students up to the age of 18.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has set up a review into the academic system after he claimed England has an ‘anti-maths mindset’. The review will ensure pupils in England study maths up to the age of 18, without making an A-Level in the subject compulsory.

Mr Sunak is due to announce the costly review in a speech in London, arguing an "anti-maths mindset" is damaging the economy. Labour say more maths teachers are needed to deliver improvements in the subject.

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Labour’s Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson accused the Conservatives of "repeatedly missing their target for new maths teachers" and said her party would invest in "thousands more teachers, including maths teachers by ending tax breaks for private schools".

Earlier this year, the prime minister said he wanted all pupils in England to study maths up to the age of 18. However, he provided little detail on how the compulsory study would be carried out, and the government has acknowledged this aspiration will not be achieved ahead of the next general election.

Today (April 17), Mr Sunak will speak to an audience of students, teachers and business leaders to offer more information about his plan - including details of a new advisory group. The advisory group will be made up of mathematicians, education leaders and business representatives.

The panel will look into countries which have high rates of numeracy and consider whether a new maths qualification should be introduced for 16 to 18-year-olds. The Conservative Party leader will also commit to introducing "a voluntary and fully funded qualification" for educators leading maths in primary schools and extending Maths Hubs - groups aimed at improving the teaching of maths.

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Currently, there are 40 Maths hubs across England. During a speech last week, Mr Sunak warned change cannot be delivered "overnight".

Rishi Sunak will review England’s ‘anti-maths mindset’ Rishi Sunak will review England’s ‘anti-maths mindset’
Rishi Sunak will review England’s ‘anti-maths mindset’ | Getty Images

He said: "We’ll need to recruit and train the maths teachers. We’ll need to work out how to harness technology to support them.And we’ll need to make sure this maths is additional to other subjects - not instead of them."

Mr Sunak is also expected to attack an "anti-maths mindset" in the review which views being bad at maths as "socially acceptable". The prime minister will argue maths is not just "nice to have" but crucial for economic growth.

He said: “If we are going to grow the economy not just over the next two years, but the next twenty, we simply cannot allow poor numeracy to cost our economy tens of billions a year or to leave people twice as likely to be unemployed as those with competent numeracy.”

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