Today’s budget offered a number of significant funding announcements related to education. Through a wide programme on education, the Royal Society works with a broad range of stakeholders on subjects such as computing and mathematics, which were highlighted in today’s budget. We welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of education, including within that, the huge responsibility placed on teachers to stay up to date on their subject areas and prepare young people for the future.
Below we have laid out a number of the key figures announced by government and what we believe this means for education.
- £42 million for a Teacher Development Premium pilot. Investment in upskilling teachers is welcome news as professional development training for teachers is vital to ensuring they have the confidence and skills to be effective teachers. This is a welcome commitment to training and a focus on best practice, much of which is highlighted in the Royal Society ACME report on Professional learning for all teachers of mathematics, which identifies content and pedagogy as two priority areas for those teaching mathematics.
- £600 for every extra young person that takes A level Maths, Further Maths or Core Maths. This is a welcome focus on encouraging young people to study mathematics. A recent survey report by the Sixth Form Colleges Association stated that 12% of those that responded to the survey reported dropping maths courses due to funding, usually Further Maths and Core Maths. With no cap on the number of young people this extra funding can be applied to, this has the potential to hugely benefit schools and provide opportunities to young people in schools that are struggling to offer mathematics courses.
- £27 million for improving the teaching of maths in 3,000 schools through the Teaching for Mastery programme. Effective teachers are at the heart of learning and the government’s focus on enabling both primary and secondary teachers to gain the understanding and skills necessary to be effective teachers is very welcomed. This supports what was found in ACME’s Maths Snapshots, that there must be a commitment to improve the supply, training and development of teachers of maths.
- £49 million to help young people that are resitting the maths GCSE. This will be split with £8.5 million going towards a pilot programme to improve GCSE resit outcomes and £40 million for Further Education Centres of Excellence. Ensuring that young people have the opportunity to succeed at mathematics is integral to improving cultural attitudes towards mathematics, and ensuring that the future workforce has the necessary mathematical skills for their chosen careers.
- £84 million for upskilling 8,000 computing teachers through a National Centre of Computing. Our report, After the Reboot, explored how computing is being taught in UK schools and one of the biggest issues we found is that a majority of teachers are not confident in teaching computing curriculum, especially the later stages where there is more of a computer science focus.
The new computing curriculum was introduced in 2014 and this was a very welcome change, moving on from the outdated ICT curriculum. There are some pockets of excellence and in our research we met a number of teachers exceling and relishing their roles as computing teachers. However when the new curriculum was introduced, not enough consideration was given to training teachers to be confident in delivering the curriculum and there are still many teachers who struggle with the subject. Computing as a subject is vastly different from ICT and those who used to teach ICT cannot be expected to pick up a new subject overnight, especially a subject as technical as computing. Establishing a National Centre of Computing is a step in the right direction. Providing a central hub will help direct teachers to the training and resources that will fit their needs. Government’s acknowledgement of the role industry can play in this is further welcomed, as it is a vitally important area for many organisations with whom we have engaged.