The government has doubled the amount of money on offer to schools that encourage more pupils to study maths at A-level.
The new “advanced maths premium” announced in last year’s autumn budget was originally going to be worth £600 for every pupil studying the subject beyond GCSE.
But the Department for Education has today announced that schools will get £1,200 for every additional pupil who studies a two-year A-level in maths or further maths. Additional pupils who study both maths and further maths A-levels will be worth £2,400 to their school.
Schools will also get £600 for every additional pupil studying a one-year AS-level or core maths qualification.
The government has also announced that the grant, which is backed by £80 million in funding and has no cap on numbers, will start paying out in September this year.
Schools’ eligibility will be calculated based on increases in the number of pupils studying the subjects beyond GCSE.
For example, if a school increases its numbers studying maths A-level from 100 in one year to 105 in the next, it will receive an additional £6,000. A school increasing its numbers studying core maths or AS-level maths by the same amount will get £3,000.
Schools Week understands the first tranche of funding will be based on increases in pupil numbers between 2017-18 and 2018-19, with schools actually receiving the money in 2019-20.
Critics say the use of 2017-18 as a baseline is unfair on schools that have already made efforts to increase numbers studying maths beyond GCSE in recent years, which won’t benefit from the extra cash.
Around 95,000 pupils currently study maths at A-level every year, while 16,000 take further maths and around 5,000 sit core maths qualifications, which are for pupils who want to study the subject beyond 16 but who did not get top grades at GCSE. Around 160,000 pupils sat AS maths last year, although this number has decreased in recent years since the decoupling of AS from A-levels.
The advanced maths premium formed part of a £177 million investment in maths education at the autumn budget.
This also included grants of £350,000 for every new specialist maths free school that opens across the country over the next few years, and £27 million in funding to extend the ‘teaching for mastery’ maths programme to a further 3,000 schools.
The Sixth-Form Colleges Association, which represents around 90 sixth forms and other post-16 providers, said although it welcomed “any new investment” in 16-to-18 education, the extra funding would have “little impact on the vast majority” of pupils.
“The government should focus on ensuring schools and colleges receive the funding they need to provide all young people with a rounded, high-quality education, irrespective of the subjects they choose to study,” it said.
“The best way of doing this is to conduct a fundamental review of 16-to-18 funding to restore a link between funding levels and the cost of providing a high-quality sixth-form education.”
Nick Gibb, the schools minister, 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.”
Although the maths premium is now calculated on a per-qualification basis, rather than per pupil, there are restrictions to stop schools being “double-funded”.
Only pupils studying both a maths and further maths qualification in the same academic year will attract double funding, up to £2,400 over two years, but this is the “only combination of qualifications that will attract funding twice in one year”, the government said.