Education news

Everyday maths skills a struggle for some, poll suggests

Checking credit card repayments can leave people feeling all at sea, according to a poll



WORKING out currency exchange rates and checking loan and credit card repayments leave many people feeling all at sea, according to a poll.

It suggests that these everyday maths tasks, as well as others such as calculating betting odds or understanding household bills, are a struggle for some adults.

The survey, commissioned to mark the first National Numeracy Day, also indicates that the public are less likely to feel embarrassed about their maths skills than they are their reading abilities.

Overall, more than one in six (17 per cent) of the more than 11,000 adults polled admitted they struggle to work out currency exchange rates, with a similar proportion (16 per cent) finding it difficult to calculate how an annual percentage change affects payments due on a loan or credit card.

Around one in eight (13 per cent) struggle with working out the return on a bet, the same proportion find checking the tax on their payslip difficult and 12 per cent struggle to understand household bills, the survey found.

And while two thirds agreed that they would feel embarrassed to tell someone they are no good at reading or writing, less than half said they would feel the same about revealing poor maths and numbers skills.

There are some positive signs - overall, just more than one in five (22 per cent) rated their maths abilities as excellent, with 42 per cent describing them as good.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of those questioned said that their maths skills are satisfactory, with a further 7 per cent saying they were poor, or very poor.

Some three in 10 said they would like to improve their maths skills, with a further 5 per cent said they wanted to, and were taking steps to do so.

Mike Ellicock, chief executive of the National Numeracy charity, said: "We know from experience that attitudes have a huge role to play in holding people back from improving their numeracy skills, with many people telling us they are just not 'numbers people' or that they don't believe they need to improve.

"However, we believe that many of us are just getting by when we could be getting ahead: earning more, saving more and doing the things we love better. Simply by getting a better grip on our numbers."

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