The Learning Renaissance

UK Maths Challenge from National Numeracy

We have been having the habitual debate in our house about functional maths and the best way to promote it (I know we like to live life on the edge at Hughes Towers!).

maths_defaultI recently had a stimulating conversation with Alex Fry at the National Numeracy Organisation and he passed on this information about an upcoming challenge…

The Numeracy Issue

It’s no secret that we have a problem with maths in the UK. Many of us had bad experiences with maths lessons at school and dread having to handle numbers throughout our adult lives as a result, whether it’s decoding our pay slips or helping our kids with their homework. Research from the government’s 2011 Skills for Life survey revealed that a whopping 49% of adults nationally have the maths skills level expected at primary school and that’s something that needs to be addressed.

But why has this happened? Part of the problem is we don’t value maths culturally in the UK. The way maths has been taught in schools is frequently very theoretical and not often connected back to things we do every day that require an understanding of how numbers work. The other major issue is attitude, often fostered by bad experiences in education leading to a fear of numbers. The mantras “I can’t do maths”, “I don’t have a mind for maths” or even “I hate maths” are so commonplace in the UK that lacking confidence with even basic maths is considered to be a cultural norm. We hear it so often it doesn’t seem a strange thing to say, whereas in some other countries where poor numeracy is not such a wide spread issue this is not the case.

Everyday maths and numeracy skills are essential for life. Forget notoriously tricky topics like algebra and trigonometry – numeracy is about being able to use numbers to solve everyday problems that we often don’t think of as maths-related. Whether you need to work out what bus you need to catch in the morning, perform tasks at work, cook a family meal or manage your money, being numerate and confident in handling numbers is a crucial skill to living in the modern world.

Whether you’re terrified of numbers or feel like you could do with some practice, the National Numeracy Challenge Online can help you to improve your knowledge of everyday maths. The Challenge will assess the level you’re currently at, set you achievable targets to improve your skills and give you the tools to learn, either online or through courses locally. The Challenge will help you to see that maths is something we all use every day, at work and at home; as you learn, practise and develop your skills further, you can get better and improve the way you feel about maths.

Find out more about the Challenge Online and take the Check-Up at

About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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