Education Secretary stumbles over simple maths equation after government plans to tackle 'anti-maths' mindset

17 April 2023, 12:45 | Updated: 17 April 2023, 13:59

Nick Ferrari grills Gillian Keegan on governments plans to tackle 'anti-maths' mindset

By Anna Fox

Nick Ferrari cross-examined Gillian Keegan as Rishi Sunak has announced a review to tackle an “anti-maths mindset”.

Nick Ferrari at Breakfast quoted Sam Freedman, a former specialist adviser to Micheal Gove when he was Education Secretary, proposing an equation for Gillian Keegan to decipher.

Nick said: “If you are thousands of maths teachers short of required numbers + you've cut real terms pay for 13 years + then you introduce a policy that requires thousands more maths teachers how likely is it to succeed?”

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Initially stuttering at the proposed equation from Nick, Ms Keegan replied: “The likelihood is increased and the probability of doing this is increased if you put maths bursaries in place for all maths teachers at £27,000, and if you increase the salary for maths teachers by £3,000, and if you focus on building 40 maths hubs which help primary and secondary schools, ordinary teachers get much more comfortable at teaching maths.

“As well, up to a level and then if you make sure that you supplement that with the right technology to enable young people to learn maths in the 21st century.”

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This isn’t the first time politicians have stumbled over their words when questioned by Nick.

Then Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, conducted a car crash interview with Nick, in which she simply didn't know how much Labour's policy to add 10,000 more police officers would cost.

Their conversation fell as Rishi Sunak announced a review to tackle an “anti-maths mindset”, which he believes is holding the economy back.

A group of advisers, including mathematicians and business representatives, will examine the "core maths content" taught in schools.

Continuing the debate, Nick questioned Ms Keegan as to whether maths teachers will be paid more.

Ms Keegan asserted that the government had already introduced a £3,000 levelling up premium which applied to maths teachers in disadvantaged areas.

She continued by stating they were working towards creating sustainable recruitment and retention plans to preserve the “brilliant teachers” and “best graduates”.

The Education Secretary added how she would like to implement an undergraduate maths teacher apprenticeship either for those who “want to go into an earn and learn route” or for those considering teaching as a “second career”.

Concluding, Ms Keegan said: “I know we need to do more to make sure that we have more fantastic maths teachers but I am absolutely focused on making sure that we do that”.

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