Education minister Liz Truss has announced the creation of new maths and physics chairs to raise standards in the UK's schools.
The postgraduate specialists in these new positions will be tasked with using their enthusiasm and expertise to inspire children and encourage them to pursue the subjects beyond the age of 16, when, Ms Truss claimed, "the pipeline of talent is broken".
They will provide masterclasses and online demonstrations and act as a link between the classroom, businesses and universities. Ms Truss said they would complement existing maths and physics hubs.
Recruitment for the new roles is currently taking place and they will be in classrooms from this autumn. The government plans to recruit hundreds of the specialist educators.
The education minister visited Shanghai earlier in the year to analyse teaching methods in the Chinese city. She says there is a "deep belief" in maths and science in Shanghai's schools, with many pupils planning to use the subjects in their future careers.
Ms Truss said the subjects are becoming increasingly important in the modern world, as big data and analytics are now vital in a range of vocations.
Those who study maths have a greater earnings potential, the minister said, and it is the only A level proven to increase earnings in later life - by an average of ten per cent.
The minister pointed out that focus groups which were run in Leeds, York and London a month ago revealed maths and physics had negative connotations for many pupils and the youngsters were surprised to learn about the wide range of opportunities opened up by these subjects.
"A levels are the most popular choice at 16. But only two per cent of girls taking A level do physics and only eight per cent do maths - the numbers aren't much better for boys," she commented.
Ms Truss drew attention to the potential benefits to the UK economy of raising standards in these subjects, as productivity and competitiveness will be boosted, while children will be given "the very best start in life".
Posted by Alan Douglas