Wales, Numeracy and Us

I was delighted to hear that the Welsh Government are proposing improving numeracy in their primary schools.  As a proud Welshman myself and a teacher/numeracy specialist I have been harping on about numeracy and  the potential impact of numeracy on the economy for 30 years.  When I taught in Leicester we developed a numeracy policy and it worked.  I developed a system where numeracy is integrated into the curriculum and becomes the responsibility of all teachers. It led to more students being able to do more mathematics and at GCSE level we entered 27 students and 10 achieved grade A, 4 a merit ( 1 above an A), 6 a distinction ( 2 above an A), the system works.

But the one thing a policy in schools cannot do is change attitudes of adults.  Adults who say ‘I couldn’t do maths when I was your age’ to students are trying to be kind BUT in reality it means ‘  I managed to avoid it so you can too’. The reality is children can’t.  We expect children to be able to spell.  If they cannot spell they get extra help.  For some reason we do not have the same expectation with using numbers.  Adults  who cannot read hide it, it is a social stigma, it causes embarrassment. Yet people wear their innumeracy with pride. It is time Wales led the rest of the U.K., it is time Wales  regained  her position as the number 1 home country for education and that is the responsibility of all of us.

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