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What is the issue?

Low levels of numeracy are a long-term problem for the UK.

1. Numeracy skills have got worse, not better

Proportion of working age adults in England with skills levels equivalent to GCSE "C" grade or above

Literacy vs Number

2. High numeracy is connected to better...

Health wages

3. The UK risks becoming less competitive internationally

International Average

The scale and cost of the issue





The causal chain of poor numeracy


In the UK, socio-economic background influences a child’s achievement by 10% to 20%


30% wrongly assume that maths is a skill you are born with, rather than a skill that can be learnt

At school, children are often not prepared for using maths in everyday life

Of 15-16 year olds doing GCSE maths in the UK…


24% of 16-24 year olds achieving A*-C grade at GCSE reach the equivalent level in the Skills for Life assessment.

1 in 4 adults in the UK believe school maths did not prepare them well for maths in everyday life.

One in four adults

Among those aged 24+ numeracy skills decline with age


But too few people take steps to improve their numeracy.

Data sources:

Skills for Life 2011; PIAAC 2014; National Numeracy YouGov Survey 2014


When we say “low numeracy” we usually mean those below Level 2 on the UK adult qualifications scale.

Image credits:

Created by Christian Wad and Jack Curry from the Noun Project.