Ofsted to assess spending on Sunak’s maths scheme

Multiply oversight concerns set to be addressed by education watchdog

Multiply oversight concerns set to be addressed by education watchdog

The government wants Ofsted to review the prime minister’s signature maths scheme for adults amid spending concerns, FE Week understands.

Multiply offers free courses for adults who did not achieve a grade C or above in GCSE maths or an equivalent level 2 qualification.

Around £560 million has been committed to the programme across three financial years to the end of 2024-25 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

But, in its first year of delivery, £30.3 million of the £81 million awarded was clawed back by the Department for Education and returned to the Treasury, according to data obtained by local government expert Jack Shaw through a Freedom of Information request.

FE Week understands that officials are concerned about oversight of the programme, including a lack of understanding over who the providers are that are delivering the scheme.

The DfE is currently in negotiations with Ofsted about conducting a thematic review this financial year. Such a review, which is likely to mostly involve a survey, would not include judgments for providers but would provide an overall view of how the programme is running, its contents and who the deliverers are.

The DfE is separately planning its own evaluation reports for Multiply.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the scheme in October 2021 when he was chancellor. He tasked officials and councils with rolling it out by the start of the 2022-23 financial year, but delays led to the funding not being released until around October 2022.

Despite the delays, around 45,000 people participated in Multiply in its first year.

Ofsted and the DfE said they could not comment on the proposed thematic review as discussions were ongoing.

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