Numeracy across the Curriculum
“Numeracy is like air - at first you aren’t even aware of its existence, yet when you realise its importance, it makes you understand how much you truly depend upon it.”
Bradley, Year 12
At Southend High School for Boys we believe that Numeracy is not the sole responsibility of the mathematics department. All other subjects can contribute to the development and enhancement of students’ numeracy skills including their ability to describe and explain their strategies and reasoning. Numeracy and Literacy are essential skills for academic success and to cope with the challenges that life brings. As such, we look for opportunities to develop these skills and join up teaching, learning and thinking across our curriculum and extra-curricular provision.
The importance of whole school numeracy is outlined below:
- All subjects depend on pupils having competence in basic numeracy skills.
- Numeracy skills enable students to understand and interpret numerical and analytical information. This facilitates improvement in students' abilities to make their own judgments and to draw sensible conclusions from information.
- If students' numeracy skills are not developed and used they may well be denied the opportunity to develop the level of understanding of some topics or subjects at the level expected for their age.
- Without basic numeracy skills, students can lack both personal and social adequacy which is a recipe for failure and low esteem.
- Industry and commerce continually bemoan the lack of numeracy skills of school leavers and graduates alike.
The importance of numeracy in each subject is outlined by Leaders of Departments below:
Numeracy is essential because shape and spatial awareness are required for scale, proportions and compositions. Geometric shapes are used to illustrate how basic observational drawing and frameworks can help with complex shapes. Essentially, pupils capitalise upon their concept of numeracy and apply it in much of what they do – from choosing a medium based upon cost or size of canvas and where it might be displayed and making decisions about what brushes to use through to abstract concepts such as aesthetics and how symmetry can be beautiful in some circumstance but the rule of thirds or asymmetry may be appropriate in others. We encourage pupils to experiment in order to develop their understanding of these transferable concepts.
Biology, Physics & Chemistry
Mathematical skills are central to all our teaching and learning across science. We spend a considerable portion of curriculum time developing and supporting the application of numeracy. It would be difficult to find a single lesson where numeracy is not essential to learning.
Numeracy is an essential feature in all Business Studies lessons and at all key stages. A concrete understanding of mathematical processes, as well and a more abstract internal notion of number is required to analyse and explore business models and projects. Students need to be able to balance these notions internally and externally when dealing with finance and financial sources, as well as the ethical dimension in terms of how a product is likely to be received. Students ground their learning in large scale projects such as the Y10 Enterprise Day.
A good grasp of numeracy is essential for success and safety in this subject. From physiology, through diet and the breakdown of fats, students learn the importance of a measured and balanced approach to life in and out of a kitchen environment. The role of number in terms of choosing ingredients and how they react in combination with others and with varying temperature cannot be underestimated.
In electronics, numeracy is continually used in every class in a variety of different ways. Measuring lengths, Amps, Ohms (colour coding), applying calculations to various components as well as whole circuit calculation. RM is used for measurements on drawings and practical work. In Graphics, measurements are made using software as well as practical applications such as on card models. Calculations and measurements are found throughout every scheme of work in technology and can be also found in most practical classes.
Considering the creative nature of drama, there is numeric potential involved in the skills for planning, constructing and reviewing a piece of performance. In terms of understanding choices of actor, costume, set design, costing and performance space, numeracy is essential for realistic and successful execution
Numeracy skills are essential in economics. For students that wish to take the subject at degree level, they will spend more time doing mathematical problems than Economics. At A2 and GCSE we have noticed that awareness of numeracy motivates students.
We use logical skills i.e. reasoning, prediction, inference, pattern recognition etc. organically, in an integrated way. We look at data handling and promote numeracy through reasoning, problem solving and decision-making.
Numeracy is as fundamental to learning in geography as any of the more distinctly geographical skills such as map reading or remote sensing. Being a good geographer requires you to draw upon all the evidence available from the world around us and if you are not sufficiently numerate then you cannot construct or analyse graphs, you cannot use grid references effectively, you cannot use statistics and you cannot grasp the 'big picture'.
Government and Politics/ Citizenship/ PSHE
Numeracy allows students to understand and interpret data/ trends/ significance of events/ effects of systems and allows them to make predictions for the future. Political and social data is used to significantly enhance understanding of theories and political events.
Numeracy is important in History across the years, because of many instances in which it comes up in the evidence used, and the reasoning needed, as well as the presentation of evidence.
We rely on students being numerate in computing. ICT students need to be able to use the language of mathematics. Numeracy is an essential skill for children to develop. The ability to recognise differences in values, interpret charts and manipulate information from data contribute to the wider education of each child in many subjects. Children should learn to develop a sense of pattern and order, and develop a relationship with numbers that will help them to solve problems that they may face in day to day situations, not only in Mathematics, but in their wider lives. In ICT students are encourage to search for, collect and store, validate, interpret, analyse and present information in different forms. Crucial to this is the ability to develop good decision making skills and to understand why data may be biased or incorrect.
We are teaching pupils how to live in a foreign country. This implies knowledge of weight, distance, different currencies and measurements. Numeracy is a part of life wherever one lives, but there are key differences that need to be taught explicitly in terms of their relation to European life. Numeracy can specifically aid pupils’ understanding as there is a pattern to language. Students in languages relate grammar rules to mathematical formulae e.g. in French Si + imperfect tense + conditional tense is similar to any quadratic equation - the two sides must balance in order for the structure to work.
Skills build throughout maths so that each element is revisited and further developed in each year of education. All areas of numeracy feature in maths provision. It is demonstrated to students in lessons that skills developed are useful in later life.
Numeracy is fundamental in understanding time/ rhythm and structure. Much in music is pattern based in terms of keys, phrasing etc. Time scales have parallels with working out rhythmic groupings and time signatures.
Numeracy is essential within PE as useful tool for planning, analysis and evaluation of performance. A wide range of mathematical functions are used to analyse and evaluate rates of progress in terms of performance and curriculum levels. Graphs and charts are used to compare students with each other and with professional athletes. Pupil diet recommendations and training are informed by national statistics and this information is discussed with students. The link between everyday health benefit and improving physical and mental wellbeing is emphasised. Heart rate monitor as well as other statistics like BMI are explicit features of teaching and learning.
Numeracy is essential due to usage in research methods and statistical analysis. Approximately 1/6th of both years has a numeracy focus. Without numeracy, students would not understand relevance/ importance of results of studies, nor would they be able to interpret how they can be applied. From 2016 the specification will change, and the subject will become more numeracy focused e.g. instead of having to identify appropriate statistical measures, and their advantages/disadvantages, from 2016 students will have to calculate them as well.
As part of good reasoning about the planet and beliefs about the planet, the relationships between things, including the numbers of things, is significant. Logic is also essential for coming to critical conclusions. Number and numbers feature in all religions in a practical and sacred context. In discussing the existence of God, probability and rationality are employed by thinkers such as Hume onwards. Sacred space and how it is constructed feature at GCSE and KS3. From the concept of eternity to allocation of resources in NHS, number is an integral part of understanding the significance of what is studied. Ethical systems capitalise upon a quantitative approach such as that in Act Utilitarianism and the Hedonic Calculus. Statistics are used for impact and to develop empathy in issues such as the abortion rate in UK vs. Ireland, costs of euthanasia vs. treatment, capital punishment vs prison for life.