Norfolk MP says maths should be studied to 18

Elizabeth Truss
Elizabeth Truss MP Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

The MP for South West Norfolk Elizabeth Truss wants teenagers to study maths until they are 18 to improve the nation's knowledge of the subject.

In a paper published today, she set out reforms which would make maths compulsory by 2015, in line with plans to raise the school leaving age to 18.

The Conservative MP says maths should be treated differently from other qualifications, and that when teenagers begin A-Levels, vocational courses or an apprenticeship they should continue to study the subject. She also claims that despite being the qualification most in demand, maths is the subject in which the UK performs poorest in international tables.

"The proposal is that mathematics should be 'decoupled' from other A-levels and vocational courses and offered as a separate course taken by all students from 2015," the paper says.

"It could then be offered in three levels for all 16-18 -year-olds accompanied by two or three A-levels, a vocational qualification or an apprenticeship.

"Every student would have a level and grade and these would be reported in the league tables."

Ms Truss says that reforms are necessary as evidence shows that there is a shortage of maths teachers to teach the next generation, and that many adults do not have good enough maths skills for work or modern life.

"The Government needs to take urgent action to address the lack of mathematics attainment in schools... Current failings are hampering social mobility and the UK's long term competitiveness."

– Elizabeth Truss MP

Last summer's A-level results showed large increases in the number of entries for science subjects and mathematics.

Biology entries were up by 7.2%, with chemistry up 9.2%, physics up 6.1% and mathematics, including further mathematics, up by 7.4%.