Politics, Schools

Sunak’s maths hub promise, times-two…

PM's pledged extension of maths hub support isn't new

PM's pledged extension of maths hub support isn't new

21 Apr 2023, 5:00

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A promised extension of the government’s maths hub school support scheme – announced during prime minister Rishi Sunak’s major speech on the subject this week – is not new.

Sunak’s re-announced his “ambition” to introduce compulsory maths to 18 on Monday, with a new expert advisory group.

A Number 10 press release stated “the prime minister also committed to extending maths hubs”.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, said in a written ministerial statement: “To continue this progress, the government is today also announcing an increase in the number of schools supported by the maths hub teaching for mastery programme”.

The scheme would now reach 75 per cent of primary schools and 65 per cent of secondaries by 2025, she said.

But Schools Week found this is already the aim of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, the government’s flagship maths scheme, run by Tribal Group.

The £8.9 million contract for the scheme, which outlines the aim, was published early last year and launched in July

When asked for comment, the Department for Education justified its claim of a new announcement because it had “not previously put forward a general public statement announcing these detailed plans”.

Its previous public commitment on the reach of the scheme was for 11,000 primary and secondary schools by 2023.

New NPQ fully-funded for one year only

A new national professional qualification (NPQ) for teachers leading maths in primary schools will be fully funded for one year from February.

There will also be updated “targeted support funding” to incentivise staff to take part, including in the smallest schools, for the 2023-24 academic year.

The government also promised to extend its Mastering Number programme, which supports children in the first years of primary school, to cover years 4 and 5.

Intensive maths hub support will also be introduced for “the schools that need it most”, with further support for staff teaching 16 to 19-year-olds resitting maths GCSE or functional skills qualifications.

Sunak said the government needed to change what he described as an “anti-maths mindset”.

The new expert group (see box out below) will look at what content students should study up to 18.

Expert group won’t look at teacher recruitment

However, it won’t look at how to recruit more maths teachers, despite the government falling short of its targets and Sunak admitting: “We need already and we will need more maths teachers and we know that.”

Dr Mary Bousted
Dr Mary Bousted

Keegan suggested dedicated maths teachers might not be essential for every 16 to 18-year-old because extra maths content could be built into post-16 technical qualifications.

But she admitted the government did not know how many extra teachers would be needed.

“It depends on what the experts’ panel say they’re actually going to be learning,” she said.

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Parents and school staff will be left scratching their heads at this latest announcement from the prime minister. Taken as a whole, the government’s policies on education simply don’t add up.”

Nearly half of secondary schools have used non-specialists to teach at least some maths lessons as recruitment crises loom, a recent NFER analysis has found.

Sunak previously admitted the maths-to-18 plan would not be introduced until at least 2025, after a general election.

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