Numeracy for Employability - Expert Seminar Report
Following the publication of the Leitch report and World Class Skills*, DIUS asked the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (NCETM) to work with key partners to develop a Numeracy and Employability Strategy.
As part of this work, NCETM ran an exercise to hear directly from practitioners and researchers engaged in adult numeracy work. At two seminars (Birmingham 12 October 2007 and London 15 October 2007), and via an ongoing web-based questionnaire and telephone interviews, responses were sought to a series of questions. The full report can be downloaded in PDF format here.
Respondents expressed strong support for this increased focus on adult
numeracy/mathematics, and the views expressed below commanded widespread agreement.
* DIUS 2007 “World Class Skills; Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England. National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics"
1. Learner Menu
What kinds of learning at around Entry 3 will support learners to go on to further learning in mathematics/numeracy and will enable them to contribute to and benefit from a competitive economy and a socially inclusive society?
What good practice already exists?
• The range of formal and informal learning opportunities available inside and
outside conventional classrooms needs to be widened
• To prepare people to meet constantly changing challenges, learning at all
levels needs to result in deep and sophisticated understanding of key ideas – even or perhaps especially at Entry 3 – not the acquisition of isolated technical competences
• Learners must be offered experiences which are intellectually stimulating,
enable them to solve real and urgent problems, and inspire them to develop
their mathematical thinking skills further
How can we build the capacity required to support this learning?
• A “Level 4 / 5” numeracy teacher in every classroom is neither practicable nor
• We must draw on and develop the expertise of a wide range of people,
supported by a smaller group of such highly qualified and experienced experts
• Recent research and development activity* offers models for professional
development and associated resources which could provide the support needed by all these facilitators of learning
*For example, recent work done via the NRDC / NCETM Maths4Life project, and NIACE / QIA
How can we best engage individuals and employers?
• Expressed demand for numeracy is relatively weak
• Potential learners are unlikely to come respond to exhortation; stimulating and
enjoyable tasters are key to persuading people that learning mathematics can
be very pleasurable and rewarding
• A Public Awareness-cum-Learning campaign is needed to make mathematics
more attractive and accessible to “ordinary” people
• Much more needs to be done to convince employers of the benefits of investment in the development of deeper mathematical thinking skills as well
as the acquisition of isolated, “just in time”, techniques. As for individual learners, tasters are key.
How can we measure the impact of all this activity?
• The deep and sophisticated learning required cannot be measured solely via
• A basket of measures is recommended, including ongoing qualitative and
quantitative research to assess the nature and extent to which adults develop
and use mathematical thinking at work and in society
Please complete our online questionnaire
Read more about the development of the strategy
View the NRDC Skills for Life Conferences Report