The Problems Created By Sunak’s Maths Lessons

As someone who holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Economics and is currently the national lead for Economics, Business, and Enterprise at Ofsted, I am in favor of ensuring that everyone has the necessary numeracy skills to navigate the economy and make informed decisions. However, I am not convinced that extending the policy of compulsory subjects beyond age 16 is a good idea.

Critics have expressed concerns about the shortage of math teachers and the practical implications of a policy that is not aimed at students pursuing A-level math. Others have raised valid questions about the point of extending compulsory math education to those who have already passed GCSE math. It is worth noting that compulsory math education beyond GCSE has been in place since 1840, based on the philosophy of Thomas H Palmer’s Teacher’s Manual.

Rishi Sunak’s proposal to extend compulsory math education until the age of 18 presents an opportunity for students to develop critical numeracy skills. Some suggested exam questions include analyzing why prices still rise despite a decrease in inflation rates or calculating the percentage of hospitals that have closed since 2019.

While I appreciate the need for numeracy skills, I do question the value of making subjects like math compulsory when they may not be relevant to an individual’s future goals or interests. For example, arithmetic skills have proven to be more valuable than advanced math skills in my personal experience.

It is also essential to consider the needs and learning differences of students, including those with dyscalculia. Each student should be treated as an individual with unique abilities, personality, and interests.

Furthermore, it is essential to address the practical implications of this proposal, such as the shortage of math teachers and the financial implications of increasing their numbers. Rather than amending the school curriculum piecemeal, we should focus on comprehensive and overdue 14-18 curriculum reform.

In summary, while I support the basic idea of developing numeracy skills, the extension of compulsory math education beyond the GCSE level may not be the most effective approach. We should focus on individual student needs, practical considerations, and broader curriculum reform.


  • joaquincain

    Joaquin Cain is a 39 year old school teacher and blogger from the United States. He has a passion for education and is always looking for new and innovative ways to help his students learn. He is also a big believer in the power of technology and its ability to help improve education.