As millions of adults struggle with the maths skills expected of an 11-year-old, campaigners have warned that poor numeracy is ruining lives and is a “blight” on Britain’s economy.
The National Numeracy organisation says that adults are struggling to understand their payslips and calculate change.
Chris Humphries, chairman of the group, says the UK must change its attitude to maths; being bad at maths should no longer be seen as a “badge of honour”.
“It does matter, poor numeracy seriously blights an individual’s life chances.
“Young people with poor numeracy are twice as likely to be excluded from school, we know adults with poor numeracy are twice as likely to be unemployed,” Mr Humphries said.
It’s often a boast, or a badge of honour. A huge part of the message is breaking down this view that’s held in this country that maths is a can do, can’t do thing, that ‘it’s genetic’. -Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy
“The history of attitudes and concerns about mathematics in the UK, and particularly in England, date back 40 years, and we’re quite realistic, we don’t expect to transform this particular issue overnight.”
Figures from a government survey, published last year, show that 17m adults in England have basic maths skills that are, at best, the same as an 11-year-old’s.
“That’s a scary figure, because what it means is they often can’t understand deductions on their payslip, they often can’t calculate or give change. Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy, said.”We want to challenge this ‘I can’t do maths’ attitude that is prevalent in the UK.
“And it’s often a boast, or a badge of honour and that’s across the whole of the social spectrum.
“A huge part of the message is breaking down this view that’s held in this country that maths is a can do, can’t do thing, that ‘It’s genetic, I can’t do it, my mum couldn’t do it’ and that kind of thing.
“There’s absolutely no evidence for that,” Mr Ellicock said.
A YouGov poll of 2,068 adults, commissioned by National Numeracy, reveals that while four in five people would feel embarrassed to tell someone they were bad at reading and writing, only 56 per cent would feel embarrassed about admitting their poor maths skills.