Essentials of Numeracy at 14

problem solving

What did we do?

In 2017, National Numeracy worked with Cambridge Mathematics to determine the ‘Essentials at 14’, the core mathematical skills and understanding needed at age 14 to confidently use numbers to make decisions in preparation for adult life, work and further study. 

The aim was to use the work National Numeracy had done previously in developing the Essentials of Numeracy as a basis to examine in detail how this would look to a 14 year-old. 

Why age 14?

At age 14 children are beginning to approach adult life. Most pupils are still following a general curriculum and about to choose GCSE options.  In England, pupils at this age are reaching the end of Key Stage 3 Mathematics, where they have built on the skills and knowledge from primary school and been introduced to more systematic and rigorous approaches to topics like algebra, geometry, and statistics. 

So at this age there is an opportunity to show pupils how their existing mathematical knowledge can be applied to everyday, realistic problems, before moving on to the more formalised and abstract nature of GCSE. If pupils can see how mathematics supports other subjects, and that they actually already have the skills needed, they could be confident to make more ambitious GCSE option choices.

What did the project achieve?

We created a series of 'Essentials at 14' documents and resources: 

  • Introduction: a summary of the attitudes needed to develop effective numeracy skills, and the relevant mathematical content.
  • Numeracy in Context: a range of practical situations where numeracy is needed and the skills that are likely to be needed in each.
  • Standards and Examples: detailed views of the attitudes, thinking skills and mathematical content that underpin effective learning in mathematics. Questions, hints and prompts for classroom discussion.
  • Resources:  four units to use in the classroom which exemplify the approaches described in the other materials.


What next?

We are looking for funding to test the resources we have produced in some schools to evaluate their effectiveness in improving the numeracy of 14 year-olds. Please get in touch if you would like to help us run an evaluation project.

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