We want to show young people that maths and science can open up endless possibilities for their future - and for Britain's future too. Our plan for education will ensure that we equip every child with the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed - and our message is that maths and physics can get them there.
It is the last taboo. Talking about it is not something a nice girl does in mixed company, it is indelicate, unfeminine. Many women have been raised to believe that men are "naturally good" at money matters and women are "naturally bad" at money matters. It's not said directly, little girls pick up this idea by osmosis. Outside the home, for a man to say he wants more money or ask for a raise is acceptable; it goes with the hairy chest and the company car. But women can't say that, they won't even admit it to themselves and they don't want to think about why.
My daughter recently had to do a project for her science home work. She was making a board game that involved great scientists. Of course there was Einstein, Peter Higgs, Dmitri Mendeleev, Euclid, Joseph Black, Jan Van Helmont, Galileo, Schrödinger (and his cat)... Only the cat wasn't male. And that was because it was a theoretical cat.
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.