The House of Lords just published a report recommending that students in the UK study mathematics until the age of 18. This recommendation cropped up last year in the Vorderman review. The Lords report can be found online in html and in pdf format. It’s a fairly long report but my response is as simple as my response to the Vorderman review: Where are the teachers going to come from? We don’t have enough teachers at the moment to provide the best-quality maths education. Giving the current ones more to do would lead to catastrophe. The Lords’ report even states The Department of Education, recognising the role of teaching in increasing the progression of students to A level STEM subjects,… has introduced a number of initiatives to increase the number of specialist teachers (such as, golden handshakes and bursaries), but, by their own admission, “the targets set by the previous Government for numbers of specialists teaching physics and maths will not be met”. Is the best that the DoE can come up with is golden handshakes and bursaries? It is unsurprising that the targets won’t be met. There will be no single solution to the problem of mathematics education in the UK, it will require many areas to be tackled but the solution must surely include higher pay for maths and science teachers. The simple reality is that my students can finish their degrees and get a job that pays them an average starting salary of (according to HESA) 23,160 pounds (according to AGR figures 26,500 pounds) with rapid increases, or spend a year on a bursary of less than 20,000, and join a profession where after a number of years they reach top of scale at 31,552 pounds? And yes I know I should take into account holidays, etc, but even with shorter holidays the working conditions are better in many professions. Looking at the figures, which do you think is the better...

## The Carol Vorderman review of mathematics...

posted by Kevin Houston

Today Carol Vorderman’s review of maths for the Conservative Party is unveiled and I was invited to talk about it on BBC Radio Leeds (I’ll give a link when one appears, UPDATE: For one week from today see here from 1:18:15). The report is hard to find on the web so I was only going on the rumoured recommendations. [Update: it’s here. The report was actually mainly written by Roger Porkess rather than Carol Vorderman.] The main points are 1. Maths should be compulsory until the age of 18. 2. There should be a two types of GCSE. The first of these is not going to help the standing of maths with the general public, is it? Maths is not the most popular of subjects and forcing people to do this until 18 is not going to help. However, that is a rather small point. The real killer of this proposal can be summed up in the question “Where are we going to find the teachers?”. The country has an acute shortage of maths teachers already; enacting this proposal will only make it worse. It will force teachers to be spread more thinly leading to poorer learning. So I can’t see it going ahead, at least for a number of years. The secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, has said he would like the majority of students to be doing maths up to the age of 18. This may turn out to be like Tony Blair’s 50% of young people going to university, i.e., end up being “more of an aspiration”. [UPDATE: See section 9.3 of the report. This problem is not really dealt with in my opinion.] The second proposal, two types of GCSE, is something we have got already with the...