Topic: Mathematics teachers hit out at ‘extraordinary’ funding decision
Date: 25th August, 2017
Source: BBC News
Reporter: Judith Burns, education reporter for BBC News
Summary of the news item
The news item report on the funding of the five-year Underground Mathematics Project which had won the support of the government commissioned review into post-16 mathematics in England. The project was initiated by experts at Cambridge University’s Centre for Mathematical Sciences five years ago with the aim of improving 16-18 mathematics education (Burns, 2017). The establishment of the project was based on the findings of the government commissioned review. According to the findings of the review, a large number of teenagers dropped mathematics immediately after GCSE thus critically affecting their job prospects as well as the general economy of the country. However, the government said that the five-year funding of the project was due to elapse in September. This made mathematics teachers through their Association of Teachers of Mathematics and the Mathematical Association want to know why the government failed to renewed the funding of the project a situation that left mathematics teachers not only shocked but distressed. Through an official letter to the Education Secretary, the two of the subject associations sought to know why continuation funding for Underground Mathematics project was not found given its success as well as government effort and commitment towards developing and advancing Level 3 mathematics in the country. With the current situation, the two associations expressed fears in attaining long-term development goals and objectives with unsustainable funding/support for programmes of great value to the economy.
In response to the government commissioned review findings under the leadership of Prof. Sir Adrian Smith that established many teenagers were dropping Mathematics after GCSE, the government announced a €16 million cash boost for post-16 mathematics for a period of 2 years. Unfortunately, this cash boost was not meant to provide a direct replacement for projects such as Underground Mathematics.
The project provided for online teaching resources that were availed for the first time to schools in early 2016 with huge success reported. Prior to government decision to cut short funding towards the project, several teachers had planned to use these (online teaching) resources in teaching new reformed A-levels that was due for commissioning in September, 2017. This is because the project laid special emphasize on the connections between different areas of mathematics that are difficult to understand maybe till degree level.
The government defended its decision to cut funding towards Underground Mathematics project by stressing that the funding was only for five-years and the end date was made known to all concerned from the beginning of the project. The government further said that the resources for the project were well received in all school and it will continue to ensure the availability of such resources after the project ends. It is satirical for the government to say that it want to see as many young people studying mathematics by funding a range of initiatives such as the Further Maths Support Programme as well as through the network of 35 Maths Hubs while it (government) wasted a lot of funds in reconfiguring support for post-16 Maths even after real experts had already made such advances. Hence, the decision to stop funding for the Underground Mathematics project was a huge blow.
In summary, the content of this news event is relevant to this course since it emphasizes on the role of government funding towards projects aimed at increasing mathematics education especially for teenagers aged between 16-18 years who tend to drop mathematics subject after elementary level thus affecting their job prospects and the overall economy of the country. Through government funding towards such projects, many teenagers are encouraged to study mathematics thus increasing mathematics education amongst teenagers thus increasing the general economy.
Burns, J. (2017). Maths teachers’ fury at funding loss. BBC News. Retrieved 15 October 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41013493