Thursday, 20 March 2014

Everyday maths: improving numeracy nationally

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According to National Numeracy, 78% of the UK population have numeracy levels of below Level 2–that’s a GCSE grade C or above, or equivalent. To try and tackle this issue, the National Numeracy Challenge launched last week. They aim to reach 1 million adults across the UK over the next 5 years.

NEC support the campaign and it’s aims, and were in fact instrumental in the campaign’s predecessor in the 70’s ‘Make it Count’ with ITV.

What is numeracy and why is it important?

Numeracy is the mathematical skill we use in everyday life. We use maths in many situations such as checking our payslips, working out how much change we need, budgeting enough to cover all of our bills and understanding interest rates on loans or savings.

Without a reasonable level of numeracy, we can’t check that we are being paid the right amount, if we’ve been shortchanged at the local shop, or if taking out that loan will be worthwhile.

What is the National Numeracy Challenge?

The challenge aims to bring awareness of the importance of numeracy to everyone across the UK, and help those affected to make improvements to their own level of numeracy. Helping people to build the confidence to use maths in everyday situations, and to understand the benefits of doing so.

The challenge is online. It is a tool designed to help people to check their level of numeracy, suggest areas for improvement, and guide them to resources to help them improve their skills. You can check back at any time to take the challenge again and see how much you’ve improved.

National Numeracy want to prove that anyone can be numerate, and dispel the myth that you either can or can’t do maths. They also want to challenge the attitudes around numeracy, and show that anyone who thinks ‘I can’t do maths’ has the possibility to change that belief.

It has become socially acceptable to say ‘I can’t do maths’, and National Numeracy fear that people commonly make this statement when, in fact, it’s not true. They fear that this had led to a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ where people feel it’s okay to have low levels of numeracy, and therefore do not seek to improve.

So take the challenge today, and spread the word: Maths isn’t just about the classroom, we use it every day. There are resources out there that mean that no-one should have to be embarrassed about a low level of numeracy meaning that they don’t get the best value for money in the supermarket, or a loan costs them a lot more than they realise it will. It’s okay to say ‘I can’t do maths’–as long as you do something about it!

Once you have taken the challenge yourself, share it with friends and family. You never know how big a difference it could make to their life. And if taking the challenge has inspired you to take your learning even further, visit our website to find out more about our Maths GCSEs, IGCSEs and A levels, or browse our full range of flexible distance learning courses.

You can keep up to date with the latest NEC news and events by subscribing to our email newsletter or following our blog. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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