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Count me in

Count Me In

A fifth of adults in England do not have the basic numeracy skills needed for everyday life. Not being able to add up or take away can leave people struggling to get a job, manage their money, or help their children with homework. It can also lead to low confidence and self-esteem.

Our latest report, Count me in, looks at approaches to dealing with poor numeracy among children and adults in England. The report finds:

  • A fifth of children leave primary school without passing the maths test at the level expected of them. That means that in a typical class of 30, six children really struggle with numbers when starting secondary school.
  • The picture is no better for adults—a fifth do not have the basic numeracy skills needed for everyday life, and they are twice as likely to be unemployed as those who are competent at maths.
  • People are happy to admit that they dislike maths or struggle with it—in many ways, it is much more socially acceptable to admit to having problems with numbers than it is to having problems with reading or writing. It is this widespread negative attitude towards numbers that is a major barrier to improving skills.

Despite a growing policy focus on raising the numeracy standards of children and adults, there is no overarching strategy to improve teaching, attitudes and skills across all the different age groups, and few charities focus on numeracy. A concerted, joined-up effort is needed if standards are to be raised across the whole population.

Count me in called for the establishment of a new National Numeracy Trust, following in the footsteps of the National Literacy Trust which was set up 20 years ago. This new organisation would lobby government, hold government to account, and take on the challenge of changing attitudes towards numbers. NPC was delighted to be involved in the development of the charity National Numeracy, which launched in March 2012. The charity aims to help every person in the UK reach a level of numeracy that allows them to meet their full potential. Visit their website, or read about the launch on our blog.

 Children who struggle with numbers are twice as likely to be excluded from school, and adults who are innumerate are twice as likely to be unemployed as those who are competent with numbers.

Belinda Vernon, report author
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