Every pupil must study maths until they're 18, Rishi Sunak to declare in first major speech of the year

4 January 2023, 00:12 | Updated: 4 January 2023, 09:37

Rishi Sunak wants all pupils to study maths until they are 18
Rishi Sunak wants all pupils to study maths until they are 18. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak wants to make pupils study maths until the age of 18 as the Government said millions of adults have the numeracy skills of primary-aged children.

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In his first speech of 2023, the Prime Minister will say the country is letting its children down by letting them leave school without key maths skills.

The "maths to 18" plan comes as the Government said most OECD countries require pupils to keep studying the subject until they're adults.

"This is personal for me. Every opportunity I've had in life began with the education I was so fortunate to receive," Mr Sunak, who went to the prestigious private school Winchester College, is to say.

"And it's the single most important reason why I came into politics: to give every child the highest possible standard of education.

"Thanks to the reforms we've introduced since 2010, and the hard work of so many excellent teachers, we've made incredible progress.

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"With the right plan – the right commitment to excellence – I see no reason why we cannot rival the best education systems in the world."

The Government said Mr Sunak will begin work on the reforms in this Parliament and plans to finish it in the next one.

In a statement, the Government about eight million people in England only have the numeracy skills of children at primary school age.

About half of people aged 16-19 study maths in that time and 60% of disadvantaged pupils do not have even basic skills by the time they turn 16.

It said that keeping pupils learning maths until they turn 18 will help the in the jobs of the future.

The plan was compared to the focus on literacy, which was saw the percentage of six-year-olds that can read fluently rise from 58% in 2012 to 82% in 2019.

However, the maths A-level would not be compulsory even under the maths to 18 plan.

Mr Sunak will say: "One of the biggest changes in mindset we need in education today is to reimagine our approach to numeracy.

"Right now, just half of all 16–19-year-olds study any maths at all. Yet in a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job, our children’s jobs will require more analytical skills than ever before.

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