24% of adults surveyed in Wales believe the way they were taught maths at school did not properly prepare them for working life.
Across the UK, one in twenty adults rated their numeracy skills as poor or very poor and only two-thirds of parents would feel confident helping their children with secondary school maths homework.
Tellingly, a poll commissioned by National Numeracy and carried out by YouGov reveals adults are more comfortable admitting they have poor maths skills than reading or writing ability.
80% of people would be embarrassed to admit they have poor literacy skills, but just 56% would feel the same about poor numeracy skills.
Chris Humphries, chair of National Numeracy and former chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), said: “It is simply inexcusable for anyone to say ‘I can’t do maths’. It’s a peculiarly British disease which we aim to eradicate. It doesn’t happen in other parts of the world, and it’s hitting our international competitiveness. With encouragement and good teaching, everyone can improve their numeracy.”
A separate poll, carried out by YouGov revealed that 54 per cent of Welsh voters believe educational standards have declined over the last ten years.
The Welsh Government is currently embarking on a series of measures to improve educational standards, with a particular focus on numeracy and literacy.
Last year Leighton Andrews, the government Education Minister announced plans to implement a new statutory numeracy framework to ensure all students at primary and secondary level met minimum maths levels. This framework will be introduced in September and will give teachers annual expected outcomes for each child from ages 5-14. Regular internal testing will allow teachers to assess the progress of students and identify those who need greater support.
Owen Hathway, NUT Wales Policy Officer said: “There is a challenge for the education sector in Wales to ensure that all children are given the best possible grounding in numeracy. We know teachers across Wales are focused on numeracy standards. The Welsh government are introducing national numeracy frameworks and tests that they hope will produce the highest standards possible.
“The best way to drive forward numeracy standards is to ensure teachers are given the right support, through funding as well as the right resources.”
Research by KPMG suggests lack of basic numeracy skills costs taxpayers £2.4 billion every year.