With 49% of the UK population having the numeracy skills expected of primary school children, a lack of confidence and skills in numeracy across UK workforces has been identified as a major issue. Frimley had identified this issue amongst their own workforce and the negative impact it was having on the health and wellbeing of their staff. They also identified it as a major stumbling block for those who wanted to progress onto their career development programmes but were unable to do so because they didn’t have the confidence or the maths qualifications to progress.
Through our initial discussions, Frimley highlighted that they had a huge demand for their Functional Skills Maths course, with over 80 members of staff sitting on the waiting list and only limited places available. And often those who were offered places on the programme would not show up on the day, or they would start the course and drop out after one or two sessions because they found it too challenging. For those who were anxious with numeracy, moving straight onto a Functional Skills programme was too big a leap, and it often reinforced the negative beliefs they felt about their ability to do maths.
As a result, we decided to introduce the National Numeracy Challenge as a prerequisite for entry on to the Functional Skills programme. This identified whether staff were committed, while also giving them an opportunity to develop their confidence and skills in numeracy so that they were ready to take on the Functional Skills qualification. This process has continued with the introduction of BKSB (an eLearning platform for GCSE and Functional Skills), with only those who have completed the National Numeracy Challenge and gained the Essentials of Numeracy being enrolled on the site.