Search

Do the Maths: Sunak Outlines Ambitious 2023 priorities

Education³

In a landmark speech on education, Rishi Sunak announced his commitment to improving numeracy rates in England. The government’s new ambition is to ensure that all school pupils in the country study some form of mathematics until the age of 18. Currently, only around half of 16-19 year olds in England study any mathematics at all, and the problem is particularly acute for disadvantaged students, with 60% of whom lacking basic math skills at age 16. The UK is one of the few countries in the world, including most OECD countries, that does not require children to study math until the age of 18.

Sunak stated in his speech: “This is personal for me. Every opportunity I’ve had in life began with the education I was so fortunate to receive. And it’s the single most important reason why I came into politics: to give every child the highest possible standard of education.” He acknowledged that this reform will not be easy, but emphasized the importance of mathematics in today’s world and the need to give every child the best education possible. He committed to starting the work of introducing math to 18 in the current Parliament and finishing it in the next.

Sunak’s ambition is his first major intervention on education since entering office and reflects his commitment to ensuring that more children leave school with the necessary numeracy and literacy skills. The government recently announced that it will invest an additional £2 billion in schools in both 2023 and 2024, bringing school funding to its highest ever level. The government is exploring existing options, such as Core Maths qualifications and T-Levels, as well as more innovative options, to achieve this goal. It is not currently envisaged that math will become a compulsory A-Level for all 16-year-olds.

In concluding his speech, Sunak said: “Maths to 18 will equip young people with the quantitative and statistical skills that they will need for the jobs of today and the future. This includes having the right skills to feel confident with finances in later life, including finding the best mortgage deal or savings rate. The government’s focus on literacy since 2010, including phonics, has led to significant improvements in standards. In 2012, only 58% of 6-year-olds were able to read words fluently. By 2019, the figure had risen to 82%. Our renewed focus on numeracy will aim to match this achievement.”

Restoring Hope

In his speech, the Prime Minister outlined his vision for a future that restores optimism, hope, and pride in Britain. He highlighted the challenges facing the country, including in the National Health Service’s Accident and Emergency departments, and outlined the actions the government is taking to address these issues. To improve the A&E system, the government plans to increase bed capacity by adding 7,000 new hospital beds and providing new funding to discharge people into social care in the community.

The Prime Minister also addressed the issue of strikes, stating that there is a lot of misinformation circulating and that the government values public sector workers like nurses and wants to have a reasonable dialogue with the unions. He promised to update the public on the government’s next steps in the coming days.

Sunak’s 5 Promises

The Prime Minister emphasized the need to address problems, not just talk about them, and outlined his five promises for the future. These promises include halving inflation this year to ease the cost of living, growing the economy and creating better paid jobs and opportunity across the country, making sure the national debt is falling to secure the future of public services, reducing NHS waiting lists and improving care, and passing new laws to stop small boats and detain and swiftly remove those who come to the country illegally.

In addition to these promises, Sunak emphasized the need to put innovation at the heart of everything the country does. He cited research showing that innovation has been responsible for around half of the UK’s productivity increase over the last 50 years and argued that the more the country innovates, the more it will grow. He highlighted several areas of innovation, including AI, fintech, green tech, and life sciences, as key areas of focus.

Finally, the Prime Minister stressed his commitment to honesty and transparency, stating that he will only promise what he can deliver and will deliver what he promises.

Final Thought

The PMs speech was an interesting watch for many reasons. For policy geeks, this is an exciting moment. Whether or not you are in favour of his policies, this marks the first time since Blair that education has been at the heart of the priorities of the UK Government. For the fans of political cut and thrust, you will have noticed a return to Johnson style boosterism in Sunak’s tone. An effort to leave behind the era of pessimism and grim outlook, he promised to make people proud of Britain again.

Perhaps most notably however, he promised a straight-talking era of transparency. He will deliver or he won’t. He promised to be straight with the public about the challenges we face, and he promised to address those challenges, not just talk about them. Having already withdrawn Ministers from the morning rounds, this is something he will already put to action.

In his own words: “I will only promise what I can deliver, and I will deliver what I can promise.”

Share

Related Topics

Latest

Plans for Diagnostics: NHS Screenings and Sunak’s Agenda

As long waiting lists for the NHS continue to persist, and people receiving diagnoses in adequate time has not reached its target, Sunak ventured on a campaign trail yesterday to trumpet new measures aimed at promoting timely diagnostics. This was to help ensure he can meet one of his top five priorities: cutting NHS waiting lists.

Hunt’s Bold Vision for the Economy

Hunt primarily proposed his bold vision for the economy and highlighted the value of investing in life sciences and the NHS especially during its time of crisis.

Video Features

Does Democracy Require Proportional Representation?

Marking LGBT+ History Month 2024

How Can We Make the UK the Greatest Place to Grow Old?

Why Should Women Stand for Office?

Subscribe to our newsletter for your free digital copy of the journal!

Receive our latest insights, future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup

Receive our latest insights as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.