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We want to help the millions of people who currently struggle with life and work without adequate everyday maths skills.

We want everyone to reach a level of numeracy that allows them to meet their full potential.

These skills should be based on the ‘Essentials of Numeracy for All’ – a model that describes the fundamental mathematical understanding needed by children and adults.

As with school education, while there are pockets of excellence and examples of successful, innovative teaching and valuable research insight, we believe nonetheless that more radical approaches are now needed across the adult education sector


A new adult numeracy core curriculum is needed. This should put at its centre the very concept of being numerate – that is, being able to use maths to solve everyday problems, make decisions and reason, knowing which maths to use and being ready to persist with different approaches.

New forms of adult assessment are required to measure not just the end result but the ‘distance travelled’ by learners. This provides evidence of both individual improvement and collective progress across the adult population. We ask politicians and the funding and qualification agencies to consider how this can best be implemented. The National Numeracy Challenge is one approach that allows real progress to be measured through offering and recording assessment before and after learning.

More behavioural research is needed into how both adults and children can be encouraged to improve their numeracy skills and how they can develop resilience and persistence. At the same time more evidence is required on the practice of adult numeracy teaching and learning to find out which approaches work best. We want to see continuing support for the work begun by the Behavioural Insights Team (the ‘Nudge Unit’ developed in the Cabinet Office) and in which National Numeracy is involved.

Work so far

  • Launch of the National Numeracy Challenge, a drive to improve adults’ confidence and competence with numeracy, enabling them to get the Essentials of Numeracy - read more
  • Providing support to those involved in numeracy teaching and learning – read about our Numeracy Experts
  • Developing our Essentials of Numeracy for All model – take a look
  • Providing a research overview around effective numeracy teaching and learning – see our Research & Resources
  • Putting research into practice by running and supporting projects – read about our projects
  • Working with those responsible for policy and planning to raise standards and where necessary to challenge them on the basis of evidence – see our report The Essentials of Numeracy: a new approach to making the UK numerate