Maths and science teaching a priority, says Cameron

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Pupils visited Downing Street at the launch of the Hour of Code project

Maths and science should be the priority for England's schools, says Prime Minister David Cameron.

He announced the opening of a National College for Digital Skills in London in 2015, to enhance economic competitiveness in the "global race".

There will be specialist training to improve the skills of 17,500 maths and science teachers.

However, Labour says the government has already failed to meet its teacher recruitment targets.

Mr Cameron argues that maths, science and technology are the key skills for a modern globalised economy.

Digital technology

"There's no secret to success in the modern world. 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.

"So today, we commit to deliver more maths and science teachers.

"This is all part of our long-term economic plan for Britain - making sure our children have the skills they need to thrive and get on."

The prime minister announced the extra training as pupils visited Downing Street for a lesson in computer coding, as part of the international Hour of Code project.

"It will take time but it's absolutely vital for the success of our country that we teach maths and science and computing in the modern way, because that will be one of the things that will determine whether we succeed or not," said Mr Cameron

A £67m initiative, covering the next five years, will give extra maths and science training for 15,000 existing teachers and recruit an additional 2,500 teachers.

Improving maths skills will benefit the competitiveness of the economy and improve the job chances of individuals, said the prime minister.

A National College for Digital Skills will be created, providing vocational courses in digital technology for 5,000 students over five years. It will work with private sector companies such as IBM, Deloitte and Bank of America.

However, Labour warned that the government's teacher training policy was already leading to shortages.

The Association of School and College Leaders warned recently that schools would have to recruit from overseas to fill vacancies, including maths and science teachers.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said: "For three years in a row, David Cameron's government has missed its own teacher recruitment targets, creating a crisis situation.

"Shortfalls in the recruitment of maths and physics teachers are especially concerning."

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