DfE doubles 'advanced maths premium' funding incentive

The government has doubled the amount of money on offer to encourage more schools and colleges to offer maths at A-level.

The new “advanced maths premium” announced in last year’s autumn budget was originally going to be worth £600 for every additional student studying an ‘advanced maths’ qualification, such as an AS or A level.

But the Department for Education has today announced that schools and colleges will get an additional £600 per year for 16 to 18-year-olds also studing AS or A-level Further Mathematics, taking the funding incentive to £1,200 per year. And where students study an advanced maths qualification and A-level Further Mathematics over two years the funding incentive would be worth £2,400.

The government has now named the incentive as the ‘advanced maths premium’, which is backed by £80 million in funding and has no cap on numbers. FE Week understands the first tranche of funding will be based on recruitment in early 2018/19 compared to a baseline, with schools and colleges actually receiving the money in their 2019/20 allocations and payments.

The DfE has published technical guidance for schools and colleges today, to include: how the baseline is calculated; a list of eligible qualifications and restate as per their letter to sixth-forms last November that “the payment will only apply to students who already have prior attainment equivalent to GCSE grade 9 to 4 or A* to C in maths”.

The advanced maths premium formed part of a £177 million investment in maths education at the autumn budget.

The Sixth-Form Colleges Association, which represents around 90 sixth forms and other post-16 providers, said although it welcomed “any new investment” in 16-to-18 education, the extra funding would have “little impact on the vast majority” of pupils.

“The government should focus on ensuring schools and colleges receive the funding they need to provide all young people with a rounded, high-quality education, irrespective of the subjects they choose to study,” it said.

“The best way of doing this is to conduct a fundamental review of 16-to-18 funding to restore a link between funding levels and the cost of providing a high-quality sixth-form education.”

The Association of College’s senior policy manager for curriculum and funding at 14 to 19, Catherine Sezen, said that “any additional investment” is welcome at “chronically underfunded” colleges, but warned that “this is not the right level of funding and it is not focused on the right area”.

“We would urge DfE to look at the difficulties and demands colleges face before even getting to level three,” she added. “Without changes to the condition of funding, and additional money allocated for level two and below, it will be a real challenge for colleges to properly staff and successfully deliver any additional level three maths.”

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said: “Although maths remains the most popular subject at A-level, this premium will open up the opportunity for even more young people to study advanced maths qualifications, providing them with the knowledge and skills for future success.”

Although the maths premium is now calculated on a per-qualification basis, rather than per pupil, there are restrictions to stop schools being “double-funded”.

Only pupils studying both a maths and further maths qualification in the same academic year will attract double funding, up to £2,400 over two years, but this is the “only combination of qualifications that will attract funding twice in one year”, the government said.