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NPC report calls for National Numeracy Trust

NPC report calls for National Numeracy Trust

News

A report from New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) calls for the establishment of a National Numeracy Trust to improve poor maths skills in children and adults.

In England, one adult in five is innumerate, and the report, Count me in: Improving numeracy in England, a guide for charities and funders, shows that poor numeracy skills can have a bad impact on people throughout their lives. According to the research, children with poor numeracy skills are twice as likely to be excluded from secondary school and at age 14 are twice as likely to play truant. Adults with weak numeracy are twice as likely to be unemployed and 65% of prisoners have a numeracy level at or below that expected of an 11-year-old.

The report suggests that a numeracy trust modelled along the lines of the National Literacy Trust, the independent charity that works to improve literacy, could help.

One of the report’s authors, Belinda Vernon, told Philanthropy UK, “Government can’t do everything to solve numeracy problems. Although there has been a lot of work in recent years to improve numeracy, many gaps in provision still remain. Schools and colleges are restricted in what they can do because they have to meet government targets. Charities can be more flexible and creative, developing, testing and evaluating new approaches.

“A National Numeracy Trust would bring together government, charities and business to tackle this problem,” 
Vernon adds. “It could look at the whole picture of numeracy from young childhood through to adulthood, foster more positive attitudes to maths, and promote initiatives to improve how maths is taught.”

The report outlines ways that funders can help to tackle numeracy problems by funding innovative ways of teaching, particularly for secondary school pupils and adults. The report suggests they could fund research into ways of ensuring that pupils are not put off maths when they start secondary school and could support work to change attitudes about numeracy skills among the public

Work is also needed to build a more coherent lobbying voice and to provide targeted and local interventions by charities, the report says.

Count me in: Improving numeracy in England, a guide for charities and funders is available for free download.