Charities already do lots of good work improving the 3 Rs of education – writing, reading and (a)’rithmetic for the non-UK readers of this blog. But it’s the 3rd R where a charity rescue strategy is desperately needed. This is a difficult ask in the current climate of falling income and savage cuts in government spending, but relying so heavily on government doesn’t work. With 1 in 5 adults considered to be innumerate, something must be done.
The association between very poor numeracy skills and negative outcomes is striking. 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. Also two thirds of young people in custody have numeracy skills below the level expected of an eleven year old. Not only does this create problems for individuals, many believe it hits our prospects for economic growth.
For these reasons, NPC is calling for a new organisation to be set up – a National Numeracy Trust – to improve coordination of teaching methods, foster more positive attitudes towards maths and promote and support successful initiatives by charities and businesses.
We will outline the rationale for this proposal in our forthcoming research on numeracy, Count me in, which we are publishing next Tuesday, 27 April.
(Read my earlier blog on numeracy: Kids don’t count – what’s to be done)