– Pupils in the top 15% for maths earned an extra £2,100 by the age of 30.

– Good readers earned £550 more, according to new analysis.

Children who are good at maths aged 10 go on to earn ‘significantly’ more in their thirties than classmates who are just average in the subject, government funded research shows.

They rake in an extra £2,100 a year while those with top reading skills end up earning an additional £550 per annum.

The findings, published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), illustrate the huge importance of children getting a good grasp of the three R’s at primary school.

Researchers analysed data from the British Cohort Study, which tracks more than 17,000 people born in April 1970 throughout their lives.

This group was tested on their maths and reading skills aged ten during the longitudinal study which also collected data on gross weekly earnings and number of hours worked per week.

IFS researchers examined the link between reading and maths scores aged ten and earnings at ages 30, 34 and 38 on around 6,000 people from the study.

They discovered that a child who was in the top 15 per cent of maths scores aged ten was likely to earn 7.3 per cent more aged 30 – an extra £2,100 per year – than an otherwise identical child who achieved a ‘middle ranking’ maths score.

This was even after controlling for additional factors like parental income and education and the highest qualifications the individual went onto obtain such as A-levels and degrees.

A similar pattern was detected at ages 34 and 38. Reading skills were also important for future earnings, but less so than maths.

A child who was in the top 15 per cent of reading scores aged ten was likely to earn around 1.9 per cent (£550) more per year aged 30 than their classmate who achieved a middle ranking result.

The study suggests that while reading ability earns some return in the labour market, employers seem to value maths skills more highly.

They are willing to reward people with higher wages, indicating there ‘may be a shortage of such skills’.

Claire Crawford, one of the authors of the report, said: ‘Our research shows that maths skills developed during primary school continue to matter for earnings 20 to 30 years down the line.

‘Moreover, they seem to matter more than reading skills and over and above the qualifications that young people go on to obtain. This highlights the importance of investing in skills, particularly maths skills, early.’

Dr Crawford, who is programme director of the skills sector at IFS, added: ‘In general, we might think that there’s a generally lower level of proficiency in terms of maths so employers are particularly willing to reward those who do have those skills more highly.’

Researchers plan to carry out additional work to see if people with good maths skills are going into careers that are particularly well rewarded financially such as engineering.

The study was carried out by IFS researchers working for the Centre for Analysis of Youth Transitions – a Department for Education sponsored research centre.

Meanwhile a study from London’s Institute of Education revealed last month that England’s brightest primary school children are almost two years behind their high achieving Far Eastern counterparts by the time they take their maths GCSEs.

They make less progress between the ages of 10 and 16 than the most able youngsters in Taiwan and Hong Kong despite almost matching their ability at primary school.

Education Secretary Michael Gove recently launched a new back to basics national curriculum, which sets out the topics teachers in English state schools should cover between the ages of five and 14.

In maths, five-year-olds will be introduced to basic fractions such as recognising and finding a half of a specified length. Currently, fractions are only introduced around the age of seven.

By the end of Key Stage Two, when children are 11, they will be expected to do sums with fractions.

They will need to learn their 12 by 12 tables age nine, instead of the current 10 by 10 tables by age 11, and use methods such as long division.

Schools Minister Elizabeth Truss yesterday said that the IFS research ‘clearly shows why mastering the basics in maths at primary school is so important’.

She said: ‘That’s why our draft maths primary school curriculum focuses on raising standards in arithmetic, including efficient calculation methods such as long and short multiplication and division, and fractions. The calculation of fractions, volume, and area will be introduced earlier.

‘We are also banning calculators from 11-year-olds’ maths tests. Children must able to tackle algebra and statistics by the time they reach secondary school.’


By Sarah Harris

Source: Daily Mail – http://goo.gl/pMcW4