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Maths is the British disease

New article looks at the desperate situation the UK is in with respect to levels of numeracy.


“Maths is the British disease.” Well, that is according to Chris Humphries, chairman of National Numeracy and a former chief executive of the UK commission for Employment and Skills. Humphries goes on to say that: "It is simply inexcusable for anyone to say: ‘I can’t do maths.’ It is a peculiarly British disease which we aim to eradicate.”

A worrying statistic shows that 15% of Britons study maths after the age of 16, compared to between 50% and 100% in most developed nations. The figure for studying the subject at University level is even lower.

According to Humphries, annual costs to the public purse for poor numeracy skills amount to a staggering £2.4 billion pounds a year. "We are paying for this in our science, technology and engineering industries but also in people’s own ability to earn funds and manage their lives,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He then goes onto say that many people could not get jobs because they struggled to read graphs and interpret documents, while people such as plumbers are unable to do calculations required to install an energy efficient boiler might lose income he suggested.

GCSE maths expert and maths tutor, Steven Britton, echoed the concerns outlined by Humphries. “Too many students are simply leaving school without a basic understanding of mathematics, exams are being dumbed down so more students can obtain a grade C.” Britton who has developed an array of GCSE Maths Revision tools goes onto to claim that unless action is taken urgently Britain faces the prospect of becoming a third world country lacking vital skills in Science and Mathematics. “For far too long have governments reduced standards in education in particular at GCSE level, we are now paying the price for this.”

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