A chronic shortage of maths teachers is affecting disadvantaged students the most in England’s schools, a report reveals.
Researchers found that less than half of all maths teachers have a degree in the subject and to compound the situation, many of them are leaving schools.
Also, for those students in disadvantaged schools then the likelihood of being taught by a maths teacher without experience will affect all year groups.
And at A-level, students in disadvantaged schools wanting to study maths are twice as likely to be taught by an inexperienced teacher as pupils in the least disadvantaged schools.
The report also makes clear that inexperienced maths teachers or those without a degree in the subject are more likely to teach Year 7 to Year 9 pupils than for older year groups.
Since most maths departments lose around 40% of teachers within six years, there is a shortage in the subject in England.
Schools are deploying their most qualified maths teachers
The findings from FFT Education Datalab found that schools are deploying their most qualified maths teachers to help students taking A-levels and GCSEs.
A spokesman for the firm said: “Our research highlights that the teacher shortage means that schools are saving their experienced and appropriately qualified maths teachers for those crucial GCSE and A-level years.”
He added: “This means that pupils in years seven to nine are being taught by whoever is left and this is a problem that’s particularly stark in disadvantaged areas.”
Nuffield Foundation’s director of education, Josh Hillman, said: “The research reveals that many schools struggle to allocate experienced specialist maths teachers to younger pupils, particularly in disadvantaged areas which could have an adverse effect on their progression and attitudes to the subject.
“This is a systemic problem and it’s not one that can be solved by schools where they are trying to increase maths teaching time when there’s a critical such shortage of maths teachers.”
New financial incentives for schools to attract trainee maths teachers
He added that there needs to be new financial incentives for schools to attract trainee maths teachers and the government needs to look at other aspects of teacher retention and recruitment including their working hours, workload and the lack of part-time and flexible working arrangements.
The National Association of Head Teacher’s general secretary, Paul Whiteman, said: “Despite years of warnings by NAHT the recruitment crisis continues and the government still fails to provide enough teachers for a growing school population.
“The recruitment pipeline leaks at both ends with too many experienced teachers leaving prematurely and insufficient numbers of new qualified teachers entering the system.”
He added that teachers should be paid more and more funding should be allocated for schools.
He also said there needs to be respect for a teacher’s work-life balance.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We are taking action to recruit teachers across the country including a £30 million investment for tailored support for schools with greater issues with retention and recruitment than others.”