The National Numeracy Challenge: will you take it up?

03 Jul 2013 | Written by Chris Andersson


Like many, I didn’t expect to have much to do with maths after I scraped a pass at GCSE. I went on to study the arts and communications - working with words rather than numbers - so you can probably guess my level of enthusiasm for double maths on a Wednesday afternoon with Mr Walker.

The trouble with maths though, is that it’s sneaky - lurking around the next corner when you least expect it.

Just a couple of examples of ways I’ve had to deal with numbers in the last week:

I’m editing volunteer interviews into a five minute video. Each interview is around 90 seconds long, so how many will I need for the finished film?

At home, I’m planning a very exciting holiday to New York, but how much money do I need to save each month to be able to afford it? Eek!

Some people will find these quick sums dead easy but plenty don’t - including me! And when you don’t, there are plenty of excuses to ignore the problem. What I really need is something to push me to improve my skills. What I need is a maths challenge...

Funnily enough, that just what a new charity is proposing!

Later this year, National Numeracy are launching the National Numeracy Challenge - aiming to reduce the number of adults who lack confidence with numbers by 1 million in the next five years. They also want to see a change in the generally negative attitude towards maths. Sounds like a worthwhile aim to me!

Currently at the pilot stage, the Challenge will provide resources to help assess skills levels and support learning, and National Numeracy are encouraging UK online centres all around the country to give the resources a go - to get a sneak peak before the national launch and help shape the Challenge to best support they people they work with in their communities.

You can find out lots more about National Numeracy and the Challenge over on their website here.

To me, the National Numeracy Challenge feels like a bold move in the right direction, with ambitious, achievable aims. I’m excited to see the UK take up the Challenge and I hope all those out there who go green every time they’re faced with numbers use the opportunity to get the support they need.

For me, it’s certainly an excuse to give up all the excuses, and to make sure I’m as confident as I can be the next time I stumble across a sum, and I’m asked to put into action the skills Mr Walker tried to impart all those years ago - I’ll certainly be giving it a go!