Poor numeracy is blighting Britain's economic performance and ruining lives, says a new charity launched to champion better maths skills. The group, National Numeracy, says millions of people struggle to understand a payslip or a train timetable, or pay a household bill. Government figures show almost half the working population of England have only primary school maths skills.Poor numeracy is, indeed, a problem at that very basic and other levels. Our engineering firms are struggling to find a sufficient number of British employees not because every foreign worker will take lower wages or work 20 hours a day but because our schools do not teach basic numeric skills without which it is impossible to study engineering.
A government spokeswoman said poor numeracy was a national scandal.
The new organisation quotes from research suggesting weak maths skills are linked with an array of poor life outcomes such as prison, unemployment, exclusion from school, poverty and long-term illness.
Poor numeracy means that basic economic factors remain a closed book to most people.
Poor numeracy means that any old rubbish produced by the Warmists, the Europhiliacs or the plain old statist banker-bashers is accepted without the slightest question by a hefty proportion of the population with politicians and the media cheerfully playing to the gallery.
In fact, this blog has already noted that City AM was starting a campaign to improve teaching of basic economics and suggested that Mr Gove's call at the time for maths teaching up to the age of 18 was misguided until the standards of teaching are improved.
I have also written about the campaign started by the Evening Standard to "get London reading", which called for volunteers to go into schools to teach children, for most of whom English is the first language, to read. Similar campaigns are being waged in other cities.
So there we are: in a country where many billions of pounds are spent on a national education system, where children start attending school earlier than in any other country and stay in compulsory, free at the point of delivery education for longer than in any other country, we are desperate for volunteers to teach basic literacy and numeracy because teachers apparently cannot be expected to do so. Is it not time we drew the obvious conclusion about our education system and about a large number of teachers who work in it?
While we are on the subject of London's schools I need to appeal to any reader who lives in London. Do NOT vote for Siobhan Benita, the former civil servant who happens to be female and rather photogenic, thus getting a good deal of media time and who has, therefore, been described as a radical. Actually, she is an old-fashioned left-wing statist who cannot envisage any system in which individuals or orgganizations of any kind are allowed to take any decisions for themselves. She is also remarkably ignorant about the role of the Mayor, preferring to run on the well-used ticket of "being against the white, male, middle class establishment". (I wonder how Ken Livingstone and Jenny Jones, the Green candidate, feel about that.) Oh yes, let me not forget that she is also a mother and used to work for Sir Gus O'Donnell.
If all the above had not disqualified her from being allowed anywhere near even a whelk stall, never mind a fishmonger, here is the clincher:
She is at her most passionate on education, and even if it is technically beyond the remit of Mayor of London, she says she is committed to reform in London. She is no fan of academies and "unfair" choices.It strikes me from those and some other paragraphs that even the Evening Standard is beginning to tire of her performance. Let us hope she is soundly trounced.
She says that grammar schools do not lift up the less well-off: "At the moment we have a system where if you can pay to tutor your kids - which is what most people do - and move into an area where the schools are good, then you're fine.
And if not, you're left behind. I say choice doesn't work. I don't think you should stop as Mayor until you're saying that every school in London needs to be excellent."