Progress in 2013 and the year ahead

After a very promising inaugural year, National Numeracy grew as an organisation during 2013, expanded its activities and spread its message to yet more audiences. We have developed new partnerships and forms of collaborative working, and are now on the brink of launching our first major long-term project designed to have a practical impact on low levels of numeracy. Below is a summary of our achievements during our second year and a look ahead to 2014.

Practical projects

  • Developed the National Numeracy Challenge as a five-year UK-wide project aiming to improve the numeracy of a million adults. Presented the concept and development materials – the Challenge Online – to a wide range of employers, education bodies and outreach organisations and won the support of key partners. Successfully piloted with 54 partners and revised the Challenge Online and the diagnostic tool at the heart of Challenge – the ‘Challenge Check-up’, and introduced further learning resources. Funding in 2013 for developing the Challenge was ongoing from NIACE, with additional funding from the Mercers’ Charitable Foundation and continuing support from the Rayne Foundation.
  • Worked with eight schools in the second year of Raising Achievement, a three-year London-based pilot project to improve the engagement and progress of children aged 7 to 9. The project funders, The John Lyon’s Charity, expressed satisfaction with the end-of-academic-year report.
  • Began scoping work for two projects: Firm Foundations for All, which will provide practical support and resources for those with the very lowest levels of numeracy, and Parental Engagement, which will help parents to play a more positive part in supporting their children with maths. Funding for this work was secured from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
  • Took part in the BBC’s CBeebies Summer Roadshow, attended by 123,000 people (parents and children). National Numeracy appeared at all eight venues in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and distributed 10,000 leaflets.


Communications and influence

  • Continued close contact with officials at Whitehall government departments (BIS, DfE, DWP) and established contact with devolved administrations, with meetings in Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast. Had meeting with Skills and Enterprise minister, Matthew Hancock, and continued contact with a range of MPs and peers. Provided evidence to MPs for debate on adult skills in House of Commons, responded to relevant government consultations and were quoted by DfE in news release on post-16 maths curriculum.
  • Expanded range of contacts in education, business and third sector, increasing interest in the issue of numeracy and bringing in new support for National Numeracy. Added more endorsements from high-profile ‘ambassadors’.
  • Attended and spoke at a wide range of conferences and seminars, including North of England Education Conference and BITC Talent & Skills Leadership Team.
  • Actively supported the Maths4Us campaign led by NIACE.
  • Established a Numeracy Forum, aimed at spreading ideas among all those with an interest in maths and numeracy, and held inaugural meeting.
  • Attracted media interest, particularly in relation to World Maths Day, response to DfE consultation on curriculum and the OECD PIAAC survey. Quoted in various press articles and interviewed on BBC TV and Radio. Wrote pieces for specialist and online publications.
  • Expanded website and developed and distributed new marketing literature.


Research and evidence

  • Completed and published the Essentials of Numeracy for All, which defines the mathematical understanding and skills needed in everyday life and which underpins our practical projects, including the National Numeracy Challenge.
  • Held a series of focus groups with teachers, parents, young people and adult learners throughout the country.
  • Developed a model for measuring improvement – or ‘distance travelled’ – as part of the Challenge.
  • Increased further the range of research findings available on the website and introduced new infographics.
  • Commissioned and published a second YouGov poll on attitudes to maths and numeracy.
  • Began discussions with the Cabinet’s Behavioural Insights Team on developing new approaches towards encouraging people to improve their numeracy.


Organisation and funding

  • Received funding towards our core activities from the Rothschild Foundation and ongoing support from Nationwide, the Mercers’ Charitable Foundation and the Man Charitable Trust.
  • Established a trading arm, National Numeracy Solutions Ltd, which acquired the maths education consultancy, training and school improvement business, National Mathematics Partnership. This is allowing us to start to expand our practical work in schools and colleges and begin a consultancy project for the Welsh government, developing training and support materials for teachers and school leaders on the topic of numerical reasoning – NNS’s first major commission.
  • Selected a new Chair, David Frost CBE (formally appointed to the Board and chairmanship in January 2014), replacing our founding Chair, Chris Humphries CBE, who is stepping down for personal and family reasons but remaining on the board.
  • Increased staffing at Lewes headquarters to meet the demands of extra activity.


Plans for 2014

  • Launch the National Numeracy Challenge on 12 March with support from Nationwide Building Society and our other partners, and achieve media interest. Continue to promote the Challenge and expand participation, and consider how to extend reach into new areas. Begin to track overall progress.
  • Support the launch of a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Maths and Numeracy, for which we have been invited to fulfil a co-secretariat role with ICAEW.
  • Complete scoping for Firm Foundations and Parental Engagement projects and begin piloting.
  • Expand practical work in schools and colleges through National Numeracy Solutions and the National Mathematics Partnership and disseminate evidence of what works.
  • Continue Raising Achievement project in London schools and circulate evidence.
  • Hold further meetings of the Numeracy Forum, establishing it as key platform for debate and spread of ideas.
  • Commission a further YouGov poll to gain new evidence on public attitudes to numeracy.
  • Continue to extend National Numeracy’s influence and contact with government, including the devolved administrations, policy-makers, business, education and the media.
  • Widen our support base and attract new funding in order to build activity further.