On 4th January 2023, Rishi Sunak announced that he plans to make maths compulsory up to 18. As he put it, “letting our children out into the world without those skills is letting our children down.” But if students don’t have basic maths skills at 16, why would this change with two further years of education? Surely people can further their analytical skills within their preferred A Level subjects? And why should numeracy be valued any higher than literacy or social skills, which are all integral as we enter adulthood?
Here are my thoughts for maths up to 18:
- Continuing with maths at a practical/ day-to-day level such as through the Core Maths qualification could help all young adults to gain an understanding for numerical concerns within taxes, bills and insurance.
- Compulsory maths could increase the current low levels of numerical knowledge in England in comparison to other countries.
- Taking maths at A Level increases future wages earnt by 11% (however, this result is not found in those who take Core Maths. Also, those who take A Level maths at all usually have to achieve a GCSE grade 7 so are probably more intelligent and, therefore likely to earn more anyway).
- Taking maths up to 18 has been scientifically proved to increase brain development as researchers at Oxford University showed.
Here are my thoughts against it:
- Stretching the maths education until 18 will stretch the already limited number of teachers, meaning maths will be taught even more insufficiently. And, if students disliked maths GCSE then they are unlikely to accomplish much with maths as a compulsory A Level.
- Maths is one of the many subjects that increase a student’s analysis and likelihood of success. There should be no reason why this particular field is compulsory above another.
- For students that struggle with maths, they will possibly always struggle with maths. To force them to continue this field, in which they are likely to gain a low grade, will lower their chance of going to university, decrease likelihood of future success and could seriously impact their mental health.
- Many develop maths anxiety due to the consistent enforcement of maths, causing helplessness, panic and mental disorganisation
- Numerical skills are linked to genes, meaning extra maths lessons for all may not significantly improve innumeracy in the UK.
In conclusion, I think it preposterous to assume that all pupils should take A Level maths up until 18. There is not enough teachers and, even if there were, those that struggle with maths would have had to endure that suffering for their entire childhood and be left with less options as they try to enter the world of work. As pretty much all philosophisers have argued, God gave us free will. Compulsory maths ≠ Free will. Future wages would not increase becuase only those who chose maths are smart enough to flourish in the subject. The implementation of Core Maths seems more reasonable as the skill set is directed specifically at maths that applies within adult life. However, as data shows, taking core maths at up to 18 does not increase future wages earnt so, prehaps, this is pointless as well. Therefore, MATHS MUST NOT BE MADE COMPULSORY UP TO 18
(sorry if I have offended any burning mathematicians, this is my opinion so take it or leave it!)