New research reveals looming crisis as experienced maths teachers retire


  • Only 10% of maths teachers 34 or under have a maths or related degree
  • Graduate recruitment drive for new teachers backed with financial incentives

Ahead of the release of this year’s GCSE results the Education and Training Foundation has highlighted the importance of supporting teachers to improve maths teaching in the FE and skills sector. The FE and skills sector provides a vital route for young people who want to move on to the next stage of their education and now need to retake their maths.

In recent years, 40% of 16-year-olds failed to get a GCSE at grade C or above in maths at school.  Many of these school leavers go on to enter a college or other further education provider, but 90% either have not continued with the subject at GCSE or failed to achieve a pass.

To tackle this the Government has set a new requirement that all young people who lack a GCSE in maths must continue to work towards it.

In total, 846,000 16- to 18-year-olds choose to study in colleges, almost double the number in maintained school and academy sixth forms. If we are serious about improving our international performance in this vitally important subject and essential business skill, then the FE and skills sector needs to be centre stage in driving improvement.

However, new research carried out by the Education and Training Foundation reveals a potential demographic crisis in the sector’s ability to deliver high-quality maths teaching. The FE teaching workforce typically has industry experience and teachers are often in their second career. Over 25% of experienced, qualified teachers are approaching retirement and there is a shortage of new recruits with a maths related degree. Currently one in three teachers aged over 55 has a maths or related degree, but that drops to just one in ten for teachers aged 34 or younger.

This has increased the need to support existing teachers and trainers across the FE and skills sector to enhance their skills to deliver GCSEs. The Education and Training Foundation is promoting bursaries and incentives worth up to £30,000 to encourage high-calibre graduates to consider teaching maths in the sector.

Details of the incentives available can be found at

Helen Pettifor, Director of Professional Standards and Workforce Development at the Education and Training Foundation, commented:

 “FE provides a great opportunity for young people to learn, from A levels to higher level vocational training as well as GCSEs, and it is vital that it steps up to provide them with the quality of maths skills they need, for them – and our economy – to stay competitive.”


Notes to editors

  • One in three teachers aged over 55 has a maths or related degree, but that drops to just one in ten for teachers aged 34 or younger.  (Source: Qualifications of English and mathematics teachers in Further Education, 2014. Frontier Economics for the Education and Training Foundation)
  • Over 25% of teachers in FE Colleges are aged 55 or over.  18.5% of teachers are under 35.  (Source: Further Education workforce data for England: Analysis of the 2012-2013 staff individualised record data, 2014. Frontier Economics for the Education and Training Foundation)
  • Twice as many students study GCSEs in FE, compared with schools – 846,000 students study at an FE college compared with 441,000 at a school. (Source: Association of Colleges Key Facts 2013/14)
  • Students rate their experience of FE highly, with 12 FE colleges among the top 20 higher education providers for student satisfaction. (Source: National Student Survey, 2014.


For more information, contact: – 07714 708416 – 020 3740 8279 – 020 3740 8278 

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