Politics

People reckon Rishi Sunak's new maths policy doesn't add up

Rishi Sunak asks homeless man whether he wants to get into finance

Rishi Sunak has left people scratching their heads following his intentions to ensure all students in England study maths until the age of 18.

In his first speech of 2023, the prime minister will announce it as the "right plan", because he sees "no reason" why "we cannot rival the best education systems in the world".

He is expected to say in a speech on Wednesday (4 January): "This is personal for me. Every opportunity I’ve had in life began with the education I was so fortunate to receive.

"And it’s the single most important reason why I came into politics: to give every child the highest possible standard of education.

"Thanks to the reforms we’ve introduced since 2010, and the hard work of so many excellent teachers, we’ve made incredible progress.

"With the right plan – the right commitment to excellence – I see no reason why we cannot rival the best education systems in the world".

The UK remains one of the only countries in the world that does not require children to study some form of maths up to the age of 18. However, Sunak's priorities left much of Twitter baffled.

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Director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham, turned to Twitter writing: "If his maths was better maybe he'd understand that you can't run a National Health Service if you are 50,000 nurses short and are cutting their pay."

Another penned: "Question from the new Rishi Sunak maths syllabus: if 13 years of Tory government knocks 20% off your real income and 40% off your pension, puts £500 a month on your mortgage and lands you with a £2000 gas bill, should you vote Tory at the next general election?"

A third added: "So after two months of near silence, Rishi Sunak's big idea to turn things around is... more maths lessons after the next general election."

Sunak is expected to stress the importance of numeracy, emphasising "our children’s jobs will require more analytical skills".

"One of the biggest changes in mindset we need in education today is to reimagine our approach to numeracy," he will say.

"Right now, just half of all 16 to 19-year-olds study any maths at all. Yet in a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job, our children’s jobs will require more analytical skills than ever before.

"And letting our children out into the world without those skills, is letting our children down".

Ministers are exploring existing routes, such as the Core Maths qualifications and T-Levels, as well as more innovative options.

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