When we started up National Numeracy in 2012, the Today programme interviewed a woman called Paula, who admitted that she "just didn't get" maths at school. In adult life, she was often unsure whether she was being short-changed in shops. But it was when she
heard her children saying they were "rubbish at maths, just like mum" that she decided to do something about it. She went to numeracy classes at college – where she did start to get it.
That's the point. Maths is not a 'can' or 'can't do' subject. Everyone can learn to get better at it. With this in mind, National Numeracy launched the National Numeracy Challenge. It's a big drive to improve numeracy across the UK and at its heart is an online site that lets you check your own everyday maths skills (in the privacy of your own home, if you like), see exactly where you need to brush up, find online learning resources that match those needs, then return to the check-up to see how you've improved.
As the Challenge stresses, the important thing is confidence.
So, if you're unsure about your maths skills, have a go. If you're already confident, try it anyway and encourage others. Mention it at work, to friends, at your child's school. Get the school to sign up as a Challenge school.
Here, on the National Numeracy Parent Toolkit, there's more information on how you can help your children learn. And if you want to know more about how your children are learning maths at school, there are links to a lot of information on that too. In Wales they've been trying a What you say counts campaign to encourage parents to be positive about maths. As a Jones, I have to salute the Welsh for taking the lead in this. We need the same throughout the UK – a commitment not to say negative things about maths in front of your children – ever.