From education to employment

Colleges plan to boost maths teaching with new funding

calculator and paper

College students are set to benefit from extra maths tuition as part of an extension to teaching hours across the academic year.

As part of the Budget and Spending Review last October, the Department for Education announced a £800 million package over three years to fund an average of 40 more hours for 16 to 19-year-olds in further education which would take full-time students’ minimum annual hours from 540 to 580.

An Association of Colleges survey found 56% of colleges plan to use the additional teaching time and associated funding to boost maths provision.

Improving young people’s numeracy skills has been a priority for the Conservative government and is a stated ambition of prime ministerial hopeful Liz Truss.

Recent upticks in FE funding, which have come after a decade of cuts, have been swallowed up by soaring energy prices and inflation, leading to major challenges for college coffers. Despite these challenges, colleges continue to deliver quality vocational education and training for 1.7 million people a year.

Among the most mentioned uses of the additional hours are additional support with study skills (59%), additional personal & social development time (57%), additional support for wellbeing and mental health (52%) and additional tutorial time (50%).

Eddie Playfair, AoC Senior Policy Manager, 16 to 18 said:

“This welcome additional funding comes at a time of unprecedented cost pressures across college budgets with insufficient growth to cover them. In this first year, we have asked for a high level of flexibility, particularly where colleges are already above 580 hours for all full time 16 to 18-year-olds.

“Our survey of how colleges are planning to use the additional 40 hours per year for 16 to 18-year-olds shows that colleges welcome the additional funded hours and will do their best to ensure that they benefit students in a range of different ways. 62% of college students are already getting more than 580 hours per year and will not need the extra 40 hours to reach the new minimum.

“Over half of colleges are planning to offer additional maths teaching and many are hoping to offer extra work-related learning, targeted support, academic enhancement, personal and social development and enrichment.

“Colleges are already facing serious recruitment challenges and, since this funding was announced, the cost-of-living crisis has hit hard, creating further budget pressures. This marginal extra funding is unlikely to deliver all the support students need.”

Sam Sims, chief executive of maths skills charity National Numeracy said:

“Half the working age population the UK has the numeracy levels of a primary school child, so we welcome colleges’ plans to boost maths provision for 16 to 19-year-olds.

“Not only is numeracy highly valued by employers, but the confidence and skill to understand and work with numbers is essential in everyday life, at home as well as at work, and never more so than during this cost-of-living crisis.”

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