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A practical approach to teaching numeracy is more effective than a purely academic system, when it comes to teaching young people and adults, says a new Ofsted report.

The most effective teaching and learning develop learners’ numeracy skills by setting maths problems in work-related contexts and by using well designed practical tasks and group work, the report found. Conversely, poor numeracy provision tends to focus solely on worksheets and repetitive exercises which can leave students both unable to understand mathematical concepts and incapable of applying their learning in their everyday lives.

Examples of good practice cited in the report, Tackling the challenge of low numeracy skills in young people and adults, include construction learners developing their numeracy to calculate how many bricks were needed for a wall, and business administration learners calculating decreases in stock after a busy weekend and using this information to change their stock orders. In both these examples, learners could see how numeracy related to their everyday lives and were motivated to put in the effort needed to become more skilled in tasks they had previously preferred to avoid.

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