We already knew that poor numeracy was more widespread than poor literacy and that around half the population of working age had only primary school-level maths skills (too many power naps at secondary school?). We also knew that poor maths was linked to lower earnings (even more so than poor literacy is) and possibly to wider wellbeing. But now the new economic research put a figure to the estimated overall cost.
Maths - the number of times I hear "I'm no good at maths!", "I hate it", "I'm not a numbers person", "I always fail at maths". The strange thing is, it's often said with a smile, a shrug, an acceptance that it's normal, it's ok. In contrast you would hardly ever hear someone admit in public "I can't read", "I can't write" and if someone did I am confident it would not be said with a smile.
The forecast of the St Jude's Day storm was good and, as Prynne highlights... The reason this forecast was very good - like so many these days - is that our ever-growing knowledge of how the atmosphere works has been extremely carefully incorporated into the computer algorithms using state-of-the-art mathematics.
When I was a child, attending a small Catholic state primary in North Wales, our times tables were something that were drummed in to us. Teachers, and my mum, who was a single parent, knew the value of being good with numbers and being able to do your "sums". And the key to it all is practise. You can't do it without practise. But somehow we think that you can confine maths to five sessions of 45 minutes or so a week (the numeracy lesson) and that's good enough. It isn't.