Maths Questions for Ministers

As Rishi Sunak has now decided that extra Maths teaching up to 18 is the “silver bullet” to solve all the UK’s problems of low productivity, in search of a more positive attitude towards numeracy, here are a few questions for him

Rishi Sunak.

  1. If the 11% decrease in the number of teacher training applications in 2023 continues at the same rate, estimate how many years it will be before there are no applications at all; and what year will that be? Answer: Roughly 10 and we will be at zero applications by 2033.
  2. If teachers had a 13% real-terms drop in pay between 2010 and 2022, while average earnings across the economy have gone up 2% in real terms over the same period, and your pay offers for teachers remain well below the rate of inflation in 2023; how is this going to reverse the trend in question 1? Answer. it isn’t.
  3. If 12% of Maths classes in Secondary Schools are being taught by a teacher without a Maths degree, and almost half of Secondary schools are using non specialist teachers for Maths classes, and 13% of new Maths teachers quit within 5 years, but you want all students to take additional Maths classes through to age 18; how does all this add up? Answer. it doesn’t.

Kemi Badenoch

If the Trans Pacific partnership benefits the UK economy by 0.8% but the negative impact of Brexit is 4%

  1. What is the effect of doing both? Show your working. Answer. -4 + 0.08 = -3.92%.
  2. Express your answer showing how many trade deals on the scale of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be needed to make up for the impact of Brexit. Answer: 4/0.08 = 50.

Ben Wallace

If the UK spends $1020 per head on its armed forces, while Germany spends $674, Russia spends $455 and China spends $204 per head

  1. How much greater is the burden of military spending for a UK citizen over a German citizen? Show your working. Answer 1020/674 = 1.5 times.
  2. How much greater is the burden of military spending for a UK citizen over a Russian citizen? Answer 1020/455 = 2.24 times
  3. How much greater is the burden of military spending for a UK citizen over a Chinese citizen? Answer 1020/204 = 5 times

Grant Shapps

If the IPCC states that the number of new fossil fuel projects that can be explored or licenced if we are to prevent climate tipping points is 0,

  1. What is the number of new fossil fuel projects the UK government should be allowed to licence for exploration Answer: 0
  2. Applied Maths: explain the discrepancy between the 0 and the number that you are licencing and quantify what you think the impact of that will be. Answer: It won’t be good…

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