Maths lessons could become compulsory for all pupils up until the age of 18.
Chancellor George Osborne announced the setting up of a review to determine whether the subject should be studied by all children until they leave education as part of a blueprint to ensure the next generation gets the “best start” in life for employment. In England, young people already have to stay in school or training until they are 18.
It was one of a series of measures unveiled by the Chancellor to ensure that reforming the education system remains a key government focus.
Mr Osborne also announced he would bring forward the introduction of a “fair funding formula” to ensure all schools received an equitable level of Government cash. The new system would be introduced by 2020.
At present, inner city schools receive more funding than those in rural areas - leading to claims that any attempt to tamper with funding would deprive disadvantaged pupils in urban areas. However, the Chancellor announced that an extra £500 million would be earmarked to cushion the blow for areas that have been well-funded in the past.
George Osborne 2016 budget at a glance
George Osborne 2016 budget at a glance
1/8 Debt forecasts up, growth forecasts down
The OBR’s new forecasts have downgraded growth in all of the next five years to 2020. The watchdog says the economy will only grow by 2 per cent in 2016, as opposed to the anticipated 2.4 per cent. Borrowing and productivity growth are also down – with forecast borrowing in 2018-198 £16 billion higher
2/8 New tax on sugary drinks
The Chancellor announced a new tax on sugary soft drinks, which is projected to raise £520 million. At least some of the money will be spent on doubling funding for school sport, the Chancellor says. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the levy
3/8 Tax cut for higher earners paying the 40p rate
The Chancellor has raised the threshold for paying the higher rate of income tax to £45,000. The higher rate is paid by roughly the richest 15 per cent, currently people earning over £42,386
4/8 Increase in tax-free income tax threshold
The tax-free allowance increase to £11,500 in April 2017 – up from £10,600 now. The Chancellor previously raised the allowance from £6,475 in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative manifesto pledges to put the allowance up to £12,500 by the end of the Parliament
5/8 New devolution for counties and powers for London and Manchester
The West of England, the East of England and Greater Lincolnshire will all get elected mayor-led combined authorities with new powers. The Chancellor says they are backed by £1 billion new funding. Greater Manchester will get new powers of criminal justice while London will keep its business rates – giving whoever is elected Mayor a lot more spending power
6/8 Fuel duty frozen for sixth year running
The Chancellor had planned to end the fuel duty freeze he had put in place for the whole previous parliament. In the event, he has announced a freeze for another year
7/8 All schools to become academies
As reported yesterday the Chancellor unveiled legislation to turn all schools into academies. He said all schools would either be academies or on their way to being academies by 2020, and that funding had been set aside to fund the change
8/8 Lifetime ISA
The Chancellor announced a new savings account to encourage under-40s to save for retirement – for every £4 saved, the Government will top this up by £1 up to the value of £4,000 a year. Tax-free ISAs will also be increased from £15,000 to £20,000
Reacting to the maths shake-up, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Mathematics is a key subject and it makes sense to extend its study.”
The Chancellor also confirmed plans to ensure every state school is an academy by 2020 - a change that will affect around 15,000 schools.
That announcement has been met with scepticism, with research by education financial experts HCSS Education showing that 59 per cent of non-academy schools are opposed to seeking academy status.
At present, 60 per cent of secondary schools and one in seven primary schools are academies. Primary schools are considered to be reluctant to transfer because they lack the financial expertise to run their own schools.
Teachers’ organisations were virtually unanimous in opposing the Government’s plans - pointing out that chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw had declared: “As academies become the norm success or failure hasn’t automatically followed”.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “These are entirely the wrong proposals and priorities for education. The Chancellor seems to be oblivious to the pressing issues that are facing education in England.
A Treasury spokeswoman later sought to clarify the Chancellor's comments, insisting he had not promised to make maths compulsory for A-level, but was looking to improve teaching of the subject across older age groups.