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Comment: PM’s Maths Plans Doesn’t Quite Add Up

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent announcement that all young people should study maths until they are 18 should be greeted positively.

Why wouldn’t we want our future workforce and leaders to have a good grasp of maths?

The problem is that most new education policies are not thought through appropriately and there always seems to be unintended consequences that have a negative impact rather than the intended positive outcome.

If only ministers consulted with people actually doing the job who have a number of ideas and solutions to drive improvement in this area. Where are these maths teachers and tutors going to come from? How will they be funded?

And will the curriculum be fit for purpose for the employers taking on the young people or will they need to start again on the mathematical skills required for that particular sector?

Read more news about apprenticeships here Does someone working in a café or a care assistant need to be fully competent in BIDMAS (brackets, indices, division, multiplication, addition and subtraction) to do their job?

Important skills to have but surely time and money could be spent on more appropriate learning and development in the career they have committed to and ensuring we are equipping students, both young and mature, with the data skills needed in their working environment.

Currently, if you are completing an apprenticeship, unless you have a grade A to C in old money, you need to pass functional skills in maths and English to achieve your apprenticeship.

Training providers are expected to work with students for around 12 months who haven’t managed to pass their GCSE in five years but with just half the funding that colleges would get on a non-apprenticeship programme. And the Government wonders why the apprenticeship achievement rates are so low.

As training providers, we will of course rise to the challenge, think outside the box and ensure all of our students have a great learning experience which results in not only a sustainable job but an appropriate qualification that gives someone the best possible opportunity to progress in their chosen career.

Let’s hope the mathematical changes are a help and not a hindrance and this is an opportunity to take our maths curriculum out of the 19th century.

Rob Colbourne is chief executive of West Midlands training provider Performance Through People

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