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UK PM Rishi Sunak sets up review to change country's 'anti-maths mindset'

Delivering a speech at the London Screen Academy, Sunak lamented that it was socially acceptable to make jokes about not being able to do maths

Sunak, Rishi Sunak

Photo: Bloomberg

Press Trust of India London

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday announced a new experts-led review into how to ensure all pupils in England study some form of mathematics up to the age of 18 as part of his strategy to change an anti-maths mindset that is holding the country back.
Delivering a speech at the London Screen Academy, Sunak lamented that it was socially acceptable to make jokes about not being able to do maths.
He pointed out that for his plan to grow the UK economy in the long term, the UK simply cannot allow poor numeracy to cost the economy tens of billions a year.
We say things like: Oh, maths, I can't do that, it's not for me' and everyone laughs. But we'd never make a joke like that about not being able to read. So we've got to change this anti-maths mindset, said Sunak.
We've got to start prizing numeracy for what it is a key skill every bit as essential as reading. So my campaign to transform our national approach to maths is not nice to have. It's about changing how we value maths in this country. And changing the way our education system works to deliver it so that all our children get these vital skills for life, he said.
Under his plans, a new expert group made up of mathematicians, educationists and business representatives will identify the core maths content needed by 16 to 18-year-olds and explore the possibility of a new specific qualification to support that.
The British Indian leader stressed that it would not involve a compulsory A-Level maths module for schools but be designed more broadly.
We're going to need to recruit and train the maths teachers. We're going to work out how to harness the technology that we need to support them. And we'll need to make sure this maths is additional to other subjects not instead of them, said Sunak, who admitted he likes maths.
The Oxford and Stanford University alumnus pointed out that Britain was one of the few developed countries where young people don't routinely study some form of maths up to the age of 18, unlike in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Japan, Norway and America.
The UK is among the "least numerate countries in the developed world", with more than 8 million adults with numeracy skills below those expected of a nine-year-old.
So I won't sit back and allow this cultural sense that it's ok to be bad at maths to put our children at a disadvantage. We've got to change this. We've got to value maths, and what it can do for our children's futures, said Sunak.
Put simply, without a solid foundation in maths, our children risk being left behind, shut out of the careers they aspire to; and the lives they want to lead, he added.
The new review group will report back with its recommendations for improving the maths curriculum by around July, with a delivery plan to be announced later in the year. Downing Street said the review would look at how maths is taught in countries with high rates of numeracy and would also consider how new technology can be used to help teachers.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Apr 17 2023 | 7:37 PM IST

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