James Norton hits out at Rishi Sunak’s plan to make children study maths until age 18

James Norton has hit out at Rishi Sunak’s plan to make school pupils study Maths until the age of 18.

The Happy Valley star spoke about the need to “nurture arts and humanities” in order to not “waste” the UK’s “cultural heritage”.

Sunak spoke in early January about his proposed change to the education system, which would not be implemented until after the next general election, should he win.

During an appearance on The News Agents podcast, Norton was asked how best to open up the arts to children across the country.

He replied: “Well, first thing you do is you don’t follow Rishi Sunak’s advice and make everyone take maths through to A Level and you nurture arts and humanities all the way through school and allow kids to take on courses which aren’t necessarily as practical and vocational.


“And so, that’s the most important thing is school, I guess, making sure that they are supported and there’s outreach programmes from centres of excellence in London and then in other big cities, and they get out to those schools, and they introduce kids to theatre at an early age and so there’s an awareness,” he said.

The actor then spoke about growing up in North Yorkshire and participating in youth theatre performances.

“This country’s got such a cultural heritage and to waste that... Talk about us standing on the world stage right now,” he said.

James Norton in ‘Happy Valley (BBC)
James Norton in ‘Happy Valley (BBC)

“I mean, the way shows like Happy Valley travel over to America, it’s amazing. I feel so proud when I go over there, and random people come up to me on the street and talk to me about Hebden Bridge… They watch it with subtitles on, but they love it. And it’s an amazing advert for this country. So, I think we need to keep nurturing the arts.”

Happy Valley concluded its third and final season on BBC One on Sunday, with a finale that was widely praised by fans.

Read The Independent’s recent interview with James Norton here.