Senior students work on Numeracy Skills in the real world

Whether we enjoyed Maths at school or not, most of us could honesty say that much of what was taught us in Maths classes during our senior years of schooling, we have never used since. Ever used Pythagoras’ theorem, or needed to know what the value of pi is recently?  When planning for our senior students there is a very big emphasis on numeracy, as opposed to Maths. So what is the difference?

Numeracy 1

Numeracy is a life skill and involves having the confidence and competence to use numbers in everyday life. It means handling money, understanding interest, using timetables, working out journey times and being able to estimate – in all kinds of situations, e.g. journey speed, time and distance, roughly how much a bill will be or your expected bank balance at the end of the month. Numeracy is a concrete and useful concept, whilst Maths, in its purest form, can be quite abstract and many students do not always see its relevance.

For those who struggle with numbers and their application, they also have to face additional hurdles such as low self-confidence and self-esteem. For this reason it is important that these people are taught useful skills within a meaningful and relevant context and have the opportunity to practice theses skills in a safe and supported environment.

Numeracy 2

In Senior School there is a big focus on becoming numerate and applying what is taught in the classroom in the real world. In Term 2 our students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge on weekly excursions as we go out into the community and access banks, shops and public transport. Prior to an outing we investigate journey times, estimate walking times, and discuss credit on our Go cards. During the excursion we use site maps to orientate ourselves and locate difference stores, withdraw money from ATMs, consider value for money and purchase various items.

Learning and applying numeracy in the real-world is motivating, relevant, fun and develops self-confidence. Being numerate maximises our chances of living a fulfilling life.


Joanne Wood – Teacher – The Glenleighden School

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