An additional qualification in numeracy should be created to sit alongside the traditional mathematics GCSE.
This new numeracy or “core maths” GCSE would help to eliminate the “national scourge” of poor maths skills, charity National Numeracy has said.
It forms a key part of the charity’s Manifesto for a Numerate UK, which was published this week as part of a new campaign.
The document highlights that in the 2011 Skills for Life survey, only 24 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds demonstrated numeracy skills at the level deemed equivalent to a GCSE A* to C grade in maths – despite two-thirds of teenagers actually having gained a GCSE in maths at this level.
The manifesto also wants to see a “measure of numeracy proficiency” introduced for all 14-year-olds, which it says would establish a “national benchmark for the level of numeracy needed for further study in all subjects between the ages of 14 and 19”.
It also calls for all teachers to be trained to “draw out the elements of numeracy in all subjects”. The manifesto states: “Every teacher must become a teacher of numeracy. That does not mean that every teacher becomes a maths teacher but that numeracy – just like literacy – is recognised as an intrinsic part of every subject across the school curriculum.”
On the proposed new numeracy GCSE, the manifesto adds: “We would expect most children to take both GCSEs and all to take at least the new numeracy (or core maths) GCSE. It would be recognised by students, schools, employers and further and higher education as different from, but no less valuable than, GCSE maths.
“It would also support the belief that mathematical skills and understanding are important for further study and work and are worth a double qualification.”
There are seven proposals in total in the manifesto, all aimed at tackling poor numeracy among both adults and children.
Above all, National Numeracy says that a “new drive” is needed to change attitudes to numeracy, which must be backed by politicians, businesses, education, the media, and parents.
It also wants more research carried out into how adults and children can be more effectively encouraged to improve their numeracy skills.
National Numeracy’s chief executive Mike Ellicock said: “We know that virtually everyone can become numerate – but there are massive psychological and structural barriers in the way. In this manifesto, we set out some steps for starting to remove them. There’s no quick fix. It’s going to take hard work and a lot of co-operation.”
For more information, or to download the Manifesto, visit www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk