David Cameron has pledged to “lift our children’s horizons and pull our country up in the world” through a drive to boost British brainpower in mathematics, science and technology.
About 15,000 teachers will be sent back to the classroom for retraining under the £67m initiative to raise school standards in the subjects.
School leavers will be offered a substantial sum towards university costs in return for becoming a teacher once they graduate in maths or physics.
A national college for digital skills will be set up in London next year with outposts to follow across the country.
The prime minister is hosting a digital event at Downing Street to mark the start of a campaign to encourage people to learn computer coding skills. He said: “There’s no secret to success in the modern world. If countries are going to win in the global race and children compete and get the best jobs, you need mathematicians and scientists – pure and simple.
“So today, we commit to deliver more maths and science teachers.
“This is all part of our long-term economic plan for Britain – making sure our children have the skills they need to thrive and get on. And by sticking to it, we will lift our children’s horizons and pull our country up in the world.”
Under the plans, specialist training will be given to existing teachers to enhance the way they teach maths and science, including contact with industry to ensure they are up to speed on the latest developments. A further 2,500 teachers will recruited over the course of the next parliament on top of existing plans.
Top A-level students will be offered a bursary to help pay for maths and physics degrees if they agree to a career in the classroom. Details of the scheme, which is expected to be ready for pupils applying to go to university next year, have yet to be finalised but could mean students receive around 75% of their course fees, as well as some living costs, in return for a teaching commitment of between five and seven years.
Around 5,000 students are expected to pass through the doors of the planned new specialist digital college, which has backing from a range of international companies including Deloitte, Henderson Global Investors and IBM.
Children with high maths scores at the age of 10 earn 7% more by the time they reach 30, according to the government.
The shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, said: “For three years in a row, David Cameron’s government has missed its own teacher recruitment targets, creating a crisis situation.
“Shortfalls in the recruitment of maths and physics teachers are especially concerning. Combine this with David Cameron’s policy of allowing unqualified teachers into the classroom and we have a very troubling picture. School standards and children’s life chances will suffer as a result.
“Labour’s ambition is clear: a world-class teacher in every classroom. That is our priority and only a Labour government will deliver on teacher quality.”
The Guardian Education (http://www.theguardian.com/education/)