Building Society aims to help tackle numeracy skills gap

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health & Education Editor

A SURVEY has found that more than 40 per cent of young people in the North-East couldn’t check whether they had been given the right change.

Yet the same survey found that one in five say they would prefer to drop maths at GCSE.

Research conducted on behalf of Nationwide Building Society reveals teenagers are struggling to master everyday number skills, as fundamental as working out correct change or choosing the cheapest products in shops, increasing the risk of them leaving school without a solid understanding of maths.

Nationwide asked year eight and nine pupils in the North-East to calculate the correct change from £100, had they bought shopping totalling £64.23.

Worryingly, while everyone gave an answer, only 57 per cent got it right and 17 per cent were more than £1 out.

In another test 72 per cent of the youngsters in the North-East failed to select the best value supermarket multibuy, when faced with three choices, and 75 per cent were unable to identify the cheapest mobile phone package, again from a choice of three. The extremely poor results demonstrate a lack of basic numeracy that could mean many are left out of pocket and spending more of their cash than they need to.

Yet nearly one in five (18 per cent) of those polled in the North-East would prefer to drop maths as a GCSE choice if it was not compulsory.

Nationwide Building Society is helping to address this crisis with Talking Numbers; a programme designed to improve the everyday number skills of 200,000 young people over four years.

Nationwide’s Talking Numbers programme offers a varied programme of initiatives, designed in conjunction with teachers and other expert partners, such as The Transformation Trust, to develop skills , in order to tackle the root causes of poor understanding and improve employability.

A sample of the activities include breakfast clubs for ten and eleven year olds in schools where over 30 per cent of students receive free school meals.

Nationwide staff are also volunteering to provide one to one numeracy skills in primary schools

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