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Opinion: Force-feeding children maths just doesn't add up, says Stratford headteacher

LAST month I concluded my column with ‘It remains to be seen if we will start the 2023-24 academic year with Liz Truss as prime minister and Kit Malthouse as secretary of state for education’. Now we know the answer and since then Rishi Sunak has become prime minister and Gillian Keegan the secretary of state for education. It remains to be seen whether this latest governmental reincarnation will lead to a change of emphasis or see current education policy try to tick over until the next general election against a backdrop of renewed austerity.

Much has been made in the media of the fact that the new education secretary, Gillian Keegan, left school at 16 to become an apprentice before being sponsored to study a degree in business. Some suggest that her appointment reflects an interest the prime minister has in promoting more effective vocational education and his commitment to ‘levelling up’ (though the concept still remains undefined).

Neil Wallace, Stratford School Head (60818259)
Neil Wallace, Stratford School Head (60818259)

However, before people get carried away anticipating any substantive changes, it is important to look at other political appointments. Any suggestion of a genuine desire to see greater emphasis on vocational schooling are likely to be stymied by the resurrection of Nick Gibb as minister of state at the department for education. Mr Gibb has been behind the government’s obsession with core subjects over the last decade, believing that schools should enter 90 per cent of students for EBacc subjects (including having to sit a GCSE in a modern foreign language), a target that is quietly slipping off the agenda due to it being completely unrealistic.

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