A five year initiative budgeted at £67m will provide extra maths and science training for 15,000 current teachers and aims to recruit a further 2,500.
The programme follows David Cameron’s announcement of the opening of a National College for Digital Skills in London next year.
The plan also incorporates a new university bursary offered to school leavers who commit to become a teacher on graduating with a maths or physics degree.
Cameron believes the move is necessary to ensure that future generations can compete effectively for the best jobs on an international scale. “If countries are going to win in the global race and children compete and get the best jobs, you need mathematicians and scientists – pure and simple,” he said, adding that future teaching is “absolutely vital for the success of our country.”
There has been research suggesting that children with high maths scores at the age of 10 earn 7.3 per cent more by the age of 30. Furthermore, those working in STEM subject-based occupations contribute at least twice as much to the economy on average and earn more than double the national average salary.
The National College for Digital Skills will provide vocational courses in digital technology for 5,000 students over the five year period. It is due to be one of several new National Colleges that will support learning in higher vocational education. The Government says several large-scale private sector companies, such as IBM, Deloitte and Bank of America, will be involved in the scheme.
However, not everyone is optimistic about the program.
The shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, believes that the past tendency of the current government to miss teacher recruitment targets has created a worrying situation. “Shortfalls in the recruitment of maths and physics teachers are especially concerning… School standards and children’s life chances will suffer as a result.”
Further concerns are raised by the Association of School and College Leaders, who noted that teacher shortages are not limited to maths and science. ASCL Deputy General Secretary Malcolm Trobe said: “we know there is an issue across a wide range of subjects including English and maths.”
“A significant number of schools say they are having real issues recruiting suitable applicants.”