• From the Director

New funding for Core Maths

Why this is so important and how you can ensure your school or college can take advantage of it

New funding for Core Maths
  • Published: 22/02/2024

Last week, the DfE announced that schools and colleges offering Core Maths would receive £900 of additional funding for each student taking Core Maths

The aim of the funding is to encourage all schools and colleges with post-16 students to offer Core Maths, so that thousands more young people can develop the maths skills they need. 

It should be a game changer.

Currently, the majority of young people in England who achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE Maths stop studying the subject at age 16. This is more than 200,000 young people each year.  In other developed countries, a far higher proportion of young people study maths post-161. Our young people are missing out.

AS and A level Maths are designed for students intending to pursue higher education and/or employment in STEM subjects and other disciplines that depend on specialist mathematical knowledge. A level Maths is taken by more students than any other A level (around 90,000 each year), but it is not designed to meet the practical mathematical needs of students who do not aspire to such strongly mathematical pathways. 

Core Maths is specifically designed to meet the needs of these students. It builds from GCSE Maths, teaching students to apply maths to real-world contexts they will meet in other areas of study, work and life – from interpreting data and statistical information on topical issues such as climate change and inflation, to understanding mathematical models and making sense of personal finance. All young people need these skills.

The 23 December 2023 edition of Radio 4’s ‘Moneybox’ is worth a listen. It includes interviews with Core Maths students, and makes clear their enthusiasm for Core Maths and its relevance to their lives.

This is an example of a question that students might tackle in Core Maths:

Rachel earns £11.22 an hour and works 40 hours a week.

  1. Rachel pays income tax and National Insurance on her wages. Use an online calculator to find how much she takes home each week after these taxes.
  2. She rents a flat costing £615 a month and also spends £185 a month on essential household bills and about £60 a week on food and drink. 
    • How much does she have left each month to spend on other things? 
    • What other things might she spend money on?
  3. Plan a monthly budget for Rachel to include all her spending.
  4. A friend tells Rachel she could buy a similar flat, pay a bit less each month on mortgage repayments than she does on rent, and end up owning the flat once she had paid for it. Rachel would need to save a deposit of £15,000 to be able to buy a flat. Estimate how long it will take her to save this amount. State clearly any assumptions you make.

Core Maths is a Level 3 qualification, like AS/A levels. It's the same size as an AS level, and carries the same number of UCAS points. It’s designed to be taken alongside three A levels or a Level 3 technical programme.

Students and teachers of Core Maths value the qualification highly, but currently only around a third of schools and colleges offering post-16 programmes teach Core Maths, and just over 12,000 students took it last year, compared to a potential cohort of around 200,000. The table below shows the key factors that have limited Core Maths uptake, and how they can be overcome:

Limiting factor How it can be overcome
Core Maths is designed to be taken alongside a full Level 3 programme, such as three A levels or a T level, but specific additional funding has not been available for Core Maths teaching, so most schools and colleges have not been able to prioritise it. The new funding removes this factor.
There is a shortage of teachers with the capacity, skills and confidence to teach Core Maths. This will take time to address, but the AMSP, working with the NCETM and Maths Hubs, already has highly-regarded, fully-funded professional development programmes and resources in place designed specifically to help schools and colleges develop their capacity to teach Core Maths. This includes support for teachers of other subjects that use maths to contribute to Core Maths teaching.
Although universities are increasingly recognising the value of Core Maths, and including it in their offer to students, there is a lack of specific and consistent demand for Core Maths qualifications from higher education and employers. This will be resolved as more schools and colleges are able to offer Core Maths. The key reason Core Maths qualifications are not yet in demand is because they have not been widely available. Both universities and employers value the knowledge and skills students develop through studying Core Maths.


Making Core Maths available to all students who would benefit from it will take time, but this funding can help to make it a reality. Please contact the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme (AMSP):

  • if your school or college does not yet offer Core Maths, to access fully-funded advice, support and resources to help you introduce it to your school or college
  • if your school or college already offers Core Maths, to find out how you can grow capacity to enable more students to take it.

Post-16 students are at a time in their lives when real-world contexts like personal finance, economics, inequality and climate change are becoming increasingly relevant to them. They find learning how to use and build from the maths they learnt at GCSE level to help them understand these contexts highly motivating. It empowers them to make sense of an increasingly maths- and data-driven world.

This new funding is a major step towards the aspiration that, within 10 years, all young people will study maths to age 18, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to become informed citizens, ready to play a full part in society. 

1 Is the UK an outlier? An international comparison of upper secondary mathematics education – Nuffield Foundation

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