Foreign

Sunak Advocates Mathematical Learning of Pupils to Age 18

The prime minister is looking at plans to ensure all pupils in England study maths in some form until the age of 18.

Rishi Sunak will announce the aim in his first speech of 2023 later, which he will use to set out his priorities for the year.

It comes amid a winter of multiple strikes, huge pressures in the NHS and a cost of living crisis.

Mr Sunak is expected to say the UK must “reimagine our approach to numeracy”.

“In a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job, our children’s jobs will require more analytical skills than ever before,” he will say.

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

During his speech, Mr Sunak is also expected to expand on his vision for the UK, and revisit comments made in December about giving people “peace of mind”.

The Daily Mail reports that Mr Sunak will take “personal charge of tackling the NHS crisis”.

The prime minister is likely to use Wednesday’s speech to acknowledge pressures facing the UK’s health system, the paper adds.

On Tuesday, a No 10 spokesman said the government was “confident” it was “providing the NHS with the funding it needs”.

Just half of 16 to 19-year-olds study maths, according to Mr Sunak – but this figure includes pupils doing science courses and those who are already doing compulsory GCSE resits in college.

It is not clear what the plans will mean for students who wish to study humanities or creative arts qualifications, including BTecs.

No new qualifications are immediately planned and there are no plans to make A-levels compulsory.

The government is instead exploring expanding existing qualifications as well as “more innovative options,” a 10 Downing Street spokesperson said.

The prime minister is expected to begin working on the plan in this parliament and finish it after the next general election.

The Autumn Statement unveiled an extra £2.3bn in core school funding for five to 16-year-olds over the next two years – reversing the real terms cuts of the last decade.

But no extra funding was given to further education colleges, which educate many of the most disadvantaged 16 to 18-year-olds, nor to sixth form colleges.

This is compounded by a predicted rise in the 16 to 18-year-old population in the next eight years.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies the number of 16 to 18-year-olds is projected to rise by a total of 18% between 2021 and 2030, equivalent to 200,000 extra students.

BBC/Taiwo Akinola

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