The UK’s adult numeracy crisis hits the North Yorkshire region, with over a third of people surveyed lacking fundamental, functional maths skills and qualifications.
A survey conducted by Yorkshire non-profit Better Connect, who work to facilitate community projects across the region, shows that 36.64% of the 2,860 working-age adults surveyed across York and North Yorkshire don’t have qualifications in Entry Level Maths or above.
This data is supported by government statistics collected a number of years ago, which indicate that up to 17 million adults across the UK, 49% of the working-age population, have limited maths skills.
PM Rishi Sunak’s recent plans for UK school pupils to study maths until the age of 18, is just one way the government intend to address the problem, also funding the new Multiply programme, which helps to upskill adults in functional maths skills, which Better Connect are bringing to the York and North Yorkshire region.
The Multiply Programme
Multiply is a £3.4m programme, funded by the Department for Education, North Yorkshire County Council, and City of York Council to offer adults in these communities an accessible way to develop their maths skills, and improve their daily lives, at work, and at home.
Better Connect, have secured over £220,000 for the first year of the 3-year programme across the York and North Yorkshire region, and are co-ordinating the community partners delivering Multiply.
Delivered out in local communities by specialist partners, the programme helps adults without a maths GCSE at grade C or equivalent, to improve their functional numeracy skills, and help benefit their personal and professional lives.
Natasha Babar-Evans, CEO at Better Connect, said: “We believe we need more focus on what we describe as The Hidden Maths Curriculum, and we need to support those with a fear of maths, to get involved in Multiply, and develop their skills and confidence. I believe together with our partners, we can make an impact across the region, in upskilling adults in everyday numeracy to help improve their lives.”
The numeracy crisis is no secret. It’s a widespread problem. A loose grasp of functional maths skills, or a phobia of maths, affects adults in all walks of life across the North Yorkshire region, hindering their personal and professional development.
A lack of advanced maths skills isn’t necessarily a barrier to a successful career. North Yorkshire based Solicitor and Judge Simon Ward said: “I left school in 1989, with what would be fair to call a scraped, Grade C GCSE in maths. Maths was always a real struggle for me at school. However, despite the fact that my maths is pretty awful, I’ve been able to go from a trainee solicitor, to becoming a judge last year. Still, if you gave me a calculation to do in my head, unless it was very round numbers, I’d probably really struggle.”
Open to working-age adults, aged 19 and upwards, Multiply will help adults across York and North Yorkshire to change how they look at maths, and fill in their numeracy skill gaps, to create more capable and confident people.
Offering both online and in-person support, the programme will help people to develop new skills that could unlock job opportunities, lead to higher wages, develop tax and accounting capabilities for the self-employed, prepare people for further study, or help in everyday personal tasks, such as budgeting money, or helping children with homework.
Better Connect’s Multiply event, held on Jan 27th 2023, launched the initiative, and brought community delivery partners together to discuss the way in which Multiply will be delivered, and the significant impact the programme could have for adults across the York and North Yorkshire region.
Paul Cliff, Head of Adult Learning at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “I’m here to spread the word about the potential of Multiply. The passion and enthusiasm for the programme amongst its delivery partners is fantastic, and I’m excited to get people engaged in maths, and in this impactful programme. I can’t wait to roll this out, and for people to experience the benefit of Multiply.”
WEA (Workers’ Educational Association), a voluntary organisation working in adult and community learning across York and North Yorkshire, and a Multiply delivery partner, keen to help adults across the community to enhance their learning, also attended the launch event.
Diane Quinney, of WEA, said: “We’ve partnered with Multiply because we see a way to weave the programme’s adult numeracy support into the wellbeing work we do, such as photography, cooking, and mindfulness walks, for plenty of learning-by-fun”
Chris Hailey-Norris, for Selby District AVS, another Multiply delivery partner said: “Multiply is going to be amazing. Let’s change how people view maths and numbers! With Better Connect, and all the partners involved, it’s going to be a success. I can’t wait.”