BIS SKILLS FOR LIFE SURVEY 2011
- Numeracy skills declined slightly since the last survey in 2003, (figure 1) whereas literacy improved. And numeracy started from alower base. In 2011 only 22% of the working- age population in England (7.5 million adults) reached Level 2 or above in numeracy – roughly equivalent to attainment at A*-C at GCSE – compared with 57% of the population (19.3 million adults) in literacy. The corresponding figures for 2003 were 26% (8.1 million adults) for numeracy and 44% (14 million adults) for literacy.
- 17 million adults in England (just under half the working-age population) are at ‘Entry Levels’ in numeracy – roughly equivalent to the standards expected in primary school. The figure in 2003 was 15 million (in percentage terms there was an increase from 46.9% to 49.1% - the overall population increased in size). The equivalent figure for literacy is 5 million adults (15%).
- Only 6% of those surveyed (down from 11% in 2003) performed more strongly in numeracy than literacy, while 62% performed more strongly in literacy.
- Amoung the young people (aged 16-24) in the survey who has passed GCSE maths at A*-C, only 24% were assessed at Level 2. Level 2 is of course regarded as equivalent to GCSE A*-C.
Read more about the 2011 Skills for Life Survey.
OTHER KEY FACTS AND FIGURES
- Adults with at least basic numeracy (Level 1 or above) earn on average 26% more than adults with skills below this level. When controlling for education level, social class and type of school attended, there is still a 10% earnings premium for basic numeracy. Source: KPMG 2008
- Adults with poor numeracy are twice as likely to be unemployed at those who are competent. Source: NRDC 2009
- Children who struggle with numeracy are twice as likely to be excluded from school as those who do not. Source: KPMG 2008 using DCSF figures
- Over two-thirds of prisoners at the start of custodial sentances have numeracy levels at or below Level 1. Source: BSA Assessment, see KPMG 2008.
- There is evidence to suggest that poor numeracy may be even more significant than poor literacy as an indicator of negative outcomes. Source: KPMG 2008 quoting Parsons and Bynner 2005, Gross, Hudson and Price 2008 and a Canadian study which found that numeracy is ‘generally a statistically significant determinant of labour market status, whilst literacy is most often not statistically significant.’
- The annual cost to the public purse of children failing to master basic numeracy skills in primary schools is £2.4Bn. Source: KPMG 2008
- Every year more than 30,000 children leave primary school at 11 with the mathematical skills of a seven-year-old. Source: DfE KS2 National Assessments
- Not enough is being done to help pupils catch up who fall behind early. The 10% who do not reach the expected standard at age 7 doubles to 20% by age 11, and nearly doubles again by age 16. Source: Ofsted 2012
- In a survey of 24 countries, England, Wales and Northern Ireland had the lowest levels of participation in upper secondary mathematics. They were the only countries in which fewer than 20% of upper secondary students study maths. Source: Nuffield Foundation 2010
- A potential increase of 0.44% on annual GDP is calculated if the 10% of UK pupils who fail to meet the OECD minimum standard were brought up to that level. Source: OECD 2010
- Adults with poor numeracy are 2.5 times more likely to report having a longstanding illness or disability and are roughly twice as likely to report several symptoms of depression. Source: NRDC 2009
- Adults with poor numeracy are more than twice as likely to have had their first child while still in their teens. Source: NRDC 2009
- Between one-third and one-half of adults with poor numeracy want to improve their skills, although fewer than 4% have been to a numeracy class. Source: NRDC 2009
- In 2012, 42% of pupils in England failed to achieve a GCSE A*-C grade in mathematics. “Many of those who scrape a pass at Grade C are still incapable of truly understanding how to calculate percentages and fractions or to interpret data.” Source: Vorderman Report 2011
- In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, about 85% of students give up maths after GCSE. In almost all other developed countries, nearly all students continue maths to 18. Source: Vorderman Report 2011.
- England came 27th out of 65 countries in mathematics in the 2009 PISA survey of 15-year-olds.
- The UK ranked 17th out of the 30 OECD countries in the proportion who have low or no qualifications (equivalent to less than a Level 2 in the UK), with 35 per cent at this level, more than double the proportion in the best performing nations, such as the USA, Canada, Germany and Sweden. Source: Education at a glance, OECD 2006.
- On recent trends it is forecast that the UK is unlikely to improve its relative international position for skills by 2020, and will fail to achieve its target on functional numeracy in particular. Source: 2010 UKCES report.
- Those with the lowest numeracy ability are twice as likely to miss their repayments and risk losing their home. Source: 2013 PNAS.
BIS SKILLS DEFINITIONS
Entry Level 1 is the national school curriculum equivalent for attainment at age 5-7. Adults below Entry Level 1 may not be able to write short messages to family or select floor numbers in lifts.
Entry Level 2 is the national school curriculum equivalent for attainment at age 7-9. Adults with below Entry Level 2 may not be able to describe a child’s symptoms to a doctor or use a cash point to withdraw cash.
Entry Level 3 is the national school curriculum equivalent for attainment at age 9-11. Adults with skills below Entry Level 3 may not be able to understand price labels on pre-packaged food or pay household bills.
Level 1 is equivalent to GCSE grades D-G. Adults with skills below Level 1 may not be able to read bus or train timetables or check the pay and deductions on a wage slip.
Level 2 is equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C. Adults with skills below Level 2 may not be able to compare products and services for the best buy, or work out a household budget.
Read more about what 'levels' mean in assessing adults' numeracy levels.
Here is a PDF of these Facts and Figures should you wish to print them out