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Labour will get more young people studying maths

Tristram Hunt will today  announce that a Labour government will drive up standards and skills by ensuring young people study maths and English up to the age of 18.

During a visit to Bletchley Park with top maths professor Marcus du Sautoy, Tristram Hunt highlighted how:

  • Labour’s better plan will see all young people continue to study maths up to the age of 18. This would mean that each year 250,000 more young people who would otherwise have dropped this crucial subject would be improving their skills in maths.
  • Three-quarters of employers believe that action is needed to improve maths and English skills. Poor maths skills mean that 16 per cent of the population are unable to identify the available balance on a bank statement, while 1 in 10 cannot identify the better deal from two financial options.

  • The cost to the UK economy of low levels of numeracy is around £20.2 billion a year. Labour’s plan would mean more young people continuing to improve their skills in maths, helping to tackle the growing skills gaps in the economy.

During the visit, Tristram Hunt and Professor Marcus du Sautoy OBE - who holds the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and is presenter of BBC’s Mind Games and The Code - discussed the importance of maths skills for young people and the economy.

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Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Our future success as a nation depends on all young people taking maths to 18, so we set the next generation up to succeed in life and work and deliver the skills employers are demanding.

“David Cameron's Tory party has shown a staggering degree of complacency, allowing schools to take on unqualified maths teachers and refusing to require the study of maths through to the education leaving age. Their plan is damaging standards and limiting our global competitiveness. Labour has a better plan.” 

Andrew Pakes, Labour’s candidate for Milton Keynes South, said:

“I was delighted that my party chose to launch this commitment at Bletchley Park, which is a testament to the importance of subjects like maths in the history of our country; and it reminds us why Labour’s better plan to ensure all young people in Milton Keynes study maths to 18 is so vital.“

Professor Marcus du Sautoy OBE said:

“It is essential that everyone is mathematically literate in this scientific age – that’s why ensuring all young people study maths to 18 is so important. Without the language of maths you are disenfranchised from making critical decisions about risk, the direction of the economy, the future of climate and energy resources and so much more. It doesn’t matter what you end up studying, a sustained mathematical education helps build a logical and analytical approach to solving whatever problem you are wrestling with.” 

Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive of National Numeracy, said: 

“We really need to challenge negative attitudes that assume that maths is a ‘can do’ or ‘can’t do’ subject. It is not. Everyone can – with effort and persistence – learn the maths they need for everyday life and work. And it is vital that we all become numerate; international research from the OECD has shown that good numeracy is the best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health.”

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