Cornwall Council has welcomed the Government’s budget announcement last week to provide additional funding to help address the national shortage of skilled mathematics teachers.

The council’s cabinet member for children, Sally Hawken, said schools in Cornwall were facing the same challenges in recruiting mathematics teachers as those in other parts of the country.

“Maths skills play an important part in everyday life - whether you want to get on at work, find a new job, feel more confident with reading or anything to do with numbers” she said.

“The Government’s announcement that they will provide additional funding to improve the skills of the UK’s future workforce is a step in the right direction. Bridging the skills gap that currently exists within STEM is also important to business, who need to know Cornwall will remain competitive post Brexit by having a capable workforce in the ‘smart’ skills sectors, such as renewable technologies, digital technology and aero-space industries.

“We all want our children and young people to receive the best possible education across all areas of the curriculum. We’ve already taken steps to develop expertise and subject leadership in mathematics across all phases, working with the Cornwall and East Devon Maths Hub and Truro and Penwith Initial Teacher Training. We’re keen to see the funding announced in the budget translate to more maths teachers for Cornwall.”

The Cornwall Education Strategy, the Cornwall Careers Offer, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Employment and Skills Strategy, together with proposals to expand the Universities of Exeter and Falmouth, are the Council’s key actions to help children and young people get the right education, skills and support for life.

The council says it has been working with a wide range of partners to encourage young people in Cornwall to develop a greater interest in STEM careers, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Earlier this month 4,500 young people attended the Bloodhound Project Education Day and Cornwall Skills Show where they saw a range of exhibits designed to demonstrate what studying these subjects can lead to – as well as having the opportunity to view the test run of the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car.

Year 12 maths students have also been offered the opportunity to do work experience through the Nuffield Research Placement programme. The four to six week placements, which take place during the Summer holidays, offer students the opportunity to work on a project that relates to an area of science, quantitative social science, computing, technology, engineering or maths.

As part of this programme the council is working with the Q Step Centre, a UK-wide £19.5 million programme aimed at addressing the national shortage of numerically-skilled social science graduates . Working with Exeter University, one of 15 fifteen universities chosen to host a Q-step Centre, Cornwall Education Business Partnership places up to four A Level Maths students each year on to research placements.

Last year two A Level Maths students from Cornwall took part in the programme, one of whom learnt how to use statistical software to process and analyse survey data on the EU referendum. As a result of the placement the student developed statistical analysis skills up to the level of a second year degree level student and actively contributed to the interpretation of results and wrote a report on the findings. The second student was taught how to develop a research study, review the literature, analyse qualitative and quantitative data and write up the study results, with her work being used as part of the final project.