Colleges and other post-16 providers could be in line for an extra £500 per student to help them achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE maths.
The Department for Education has announced a trial of a basic maths premium to see if extra up-front funding, or the incentive of extra funding based on achievement, improves outcomes.
To be eligible for the trial, providers must be in a geographical area where current educational performance is defined as weak by the DfE and have students enrolled on a 16-19 programme who have yet to achieve a GCSE grade 4 or above in GCSE maths.
'Flexibility' of funding
According to the DfE briefing, there will be flexibility in how the additional funding can be spent, as long as it goes towards improving the outcomes of low-attaining maths students. The announcement follows the inclusion of an £80 million maths premium for sixth-formers in the Autumn Budget, to encourage providers to recruit more A-level students taking the subject.
Catherine Sezen, senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges, said: “We welcome the DfE investment in the basic maths premium pilot, which is focused on analysing whether additional funding will support improved achievement in areas of the greatest need. It will enable providers in these areas to invest in innovative strategies to help support their students' maths skills.
“We would like to see this sort of investment being made available to all colleges. Colleges are working very hard throughout the country to improve students’ English and maths skills. This funding will impact on some but by no means all.”
Chief executive of the Sixth Form College Association (SFCA) Bill Watkin said: "Improving levels of numeracy is a major priority for sixth form colleges and that’s why SFCA was a partner in the first ever national numeracy day that took place this week.
"Our sector has an excellent record in helping students to achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE maths that had not previously done so. But we believe any additional funding should be used to increase the national funding rate for all students, not targeted at particular subjects in particular parts of the country."