Bad numeracy is damaging UK economy

THE FUTURE of the economy is in jeopardy unless the UK’s failing maths education system is radically overhauled, according to Tory maths guru Carol Vorderman who today releases the damning findings of her two-year investigation into financial literacy.

Shocking findings from the study, which was commissioned by the Conservative party in 2009 and carried out by a task force led by the former Countdown presenter, include the statistic that every year more than 300,000 16 year-olds conclude their GCSE maths course without the basic numeracy skills to function properly in either their work or personal lives.

By age 16, there is a 10-year learning gap between the highest- and lowest-achieving students, with nearly half of all students failing to achieve Grade C or above in GCSE maths, and only 15 per cent of students continuing the subject beyond GCSE.

Maths should be compulsory in schools until age 18, recommends the report, and the single maths GCSE should be scrapped in favour of a double numerical qualification, as exists for English Literature and English Language.

“Numbers are the sounds, syllables and words of the language of mathematics, but for enormous swathes of the population, it is a language they cannot speak,” said Vorderman in the report, A World-Class Maths Education for All Our Young People.

“Recent research estimates that 22 per cent of 16 to 19 year-olds are functionally innumerate; this figure has remained stable for the last 20 years and is higher than in many other industrialised countries,” she added.

“Unless major alterations in our mathematics education are made, and fast, we are risking our future economic prosperity.”