WHAT IS MATHS ANXIETY?

Why is it so little understood?
Why does it matter?

Maths Anxiety has been known about for over 50 years. It is defined as a negative emotional reaction to mathematics, leading to varying degrees of helplessness, panic and mental disorganisation that arise among some people when faced with a mathematical problem, whether in ordinary life or in an academic situation.

Although it has been recognised in higher academic circles for over half a century and although it affects a significant proportion of the population, it is little known about by the wider general public or even the teaching profession.

An Ipsos MORI poll, commissioned by Shirley Conran in April 2018 and completed on 23 May 2018 found that:

  • 36% of younger (15-24 year-olds) people feel anxious about maths, compared to 10% of older (65+)
  • 20% of adults in Great Britain have felt anxious when confronted with a mathematical problem
  • 23% of parents of children aged 5-15 report that their eldest child often feels anxious when attempting to solve a maths problem
  • 80% of adults have never heard of the term Maths Anxiety
 
Student in class with head in hands

 

WHY DOES MATHS ANXIETY MATTER?

It matters individually because it leads to stress, low self-esteem, poorly managed finances and decreased social mobility

It matters educationally because the UK is near the bottom of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s PISA mathematical rating, having slipped down to number 27 of the 35 countries listed in 2015, the lowest rank since it began participating in the PISA tests in 2000. It is widely believed that this is due to Maths Anxiety.

It matters nationally because it has a profound impact upon the UK economy and on businesses who have to pay large sums to train their key staff to tackle maths.

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THE FEAR FACTOR

Maths Action Report: The Fear Factor
The Fear Factor by Dr Samantha Callan

Do only boys have the maths gene?

A lot of people still believe a lie that was started in the 17th Century by the Church, aided by some medical doctors, who told parents of girls that learning about maths would shrivel their wombs and so damage their marriage prospects.

“This report is a welcome contribution to the debate on how to tackle maths misconceptions with clear recommendations on how all aspects of society can play their part in doing so. “ Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan MP, when she was Secretary of state for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities.

MONEY STUFF by Shirley Conran

Shirley Conran's Maths Programme: Money Stuff

Girls, mothers and any other female with Maths Anxiety can go to the top of this HOME PAGE and click on MONEY STUFF FOR YEAR 9 GIRLS  who want to look their prettiest and travel on holiday, who like handbags, mascara, teenage fashion, the colour pink, top girl singers and kittens.

MATHS4GIRLS

Sherry Coutu CBE

Highly likeable Sherry Coutu CBE – who is CEO of Founders4Schools – is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and educationalist. She has taught at The London Business School and founded a number of charities. She is on the Board of Raspberry Pi which teaches computer coding and advises businesses, universities and charities including The Royal Society, Zoopla and The London Exchange.

Sherry says, “My mission in starting MATHS4GIRLS is to inspire the next generation of girls to feel confident and to see for themselves the reasons for learning maths by introducing them personally to amazing and trail-blazing women in finance, business and the many other industries – such as Sport and Media – that use maths in their work and in their private lives.”

Find our more about the MATHS4GIRLS pilot

Shirley Conran

Hello I’m Shirley Conran.

I believe that parents need to know why 1 in 4 school leavers CANNOT DO BASIC MATHS, according to their own exam results.

Because on the day you leave school – you need maths for the rest of your life, if you don’t want to be poor.

Whatever you plan to do – even if it’s having a baby – you will need to use Everyday maths EVERY DAY.

No factory manager would get away with a 1 in 4 failure rate, whether they were making sports cars or jam jars.

Who is responsible for this? We need to know exactly who is responsible for improving this dreadful statistic – and exactly what is being done about it. Do you agree?

Maths Anxiety Summit

Shirley Conran OBE, Hon Fellow UCL, Founder of The Work Life Balance Trust and bestselling author of such ground-breaking books as Superwoman and Lace is determined to spotlight the problem of Maths Anxiety. She has formed Maths Anxiety Trust to ask questions, get answers and press for action. The Maths Anxiety Trust was launched at a major summit at Senate House, UCL on 13th June 2018 with a stellar line-up of speakers.

 

Read the Maths Anxiety Summit 2018 report

Maths Anxiety Summit report

View Maths Anxiety Summit videos

Shirley Conran has spent the past fifteen years researching maths – how it is taught and the levels of achievement in the subject in the UK today.  She launched her maths course, Money Stuff in 2014 aimed at helping young people become more mathematically, and thus financially successful.  In 2015, she published The Fear Factor which examined why people are afraid of maths.  An Ipsos MORI poll (shown to the left) commissioned by Shirley in 2018  shows only too clearly how important her Maths Anxiety campaign is.

THE INVISIBLE THREAT

DID YOU KNOW?

In 2015, Britain, formerly ranked number 7, was rated 27th of 35 countries in numeracy and literacy, in the most recent triannual rating of OECD’s Programme for International Students Assessment [PISA] 2016.

NEW MOVE

Shirley Conran OBE,  Hon Fellow UCL, founder of The Work Life Balance Trust and best-selling author, is determined to spotlight this problem. She has formed The Maths Anxiety Trust to ask questions, get answers and press for action.

BIRDSEYE VIEW

In November 2017, Money Advice Service found that in a survey of 2086 UK working age adults who took a numeracy assessment, 45% were found to have poor or low numeracy levels. [ref: Adult Numeracy and Financial Literacy ]

On 16th May 2018, KPMG announced a YouGov online poll of 11,012 adults. 37% had felt stressed about everyday tasks involving numeracy and 45% admit to struggling with these tasks.

In June 2018 a nationwide Mori poll, commissioned by Shirley Conran, reported that 36% of 15-24 year olds feel anxious about maths.

In March 2018, Shirley Conran commissioned The Langley Park Survey in depth of 2,000 pupils, in two schools with excellent maths exam results; it reported the following.
Around 25% of the boys and 25% of the girl students have Maths Anxiety.
An additional 15% said that they sometimes experience
Maths Anxiety.

OFFICIAL FIGURES

23% of 5-year-old students in the UK did not reach the baseline standard in PISA.

25% of 11-year-olds did not reach the expected standard in mathematics in 2017.

29% of students entering for maths GCSE in 2017 did not get a level 4 (the old grade C) – nationally the percentage would have been higher as not all students are entered.

HOW LONG HAS THE GOVERNMENT AND THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION KNOWN ABOUT THIS CRISIS?

Commissioned by a Labour government in 1978 and published in 1982 Conservative Government, maths educator Sir Wilfred Cockcroft produced ‘Mathematics Counts’, a report known as the Cockroft Report. This included a research project into Maths Anxiety, which stated that it existed in all social groups and educational projects. The extent to which the need to undertake even an apparently simple and straightforward piece of mathematics could induce feelings of anxiety, helplessness, fear and even guilt in some of those interviewed’ This was perhaps the most striking feature of the study.

CONCLUSION

This situation was reported to the government 30 YEARS ago. So for 30 years millions of schoolchildren have continued to suffer.

“There is clearly a national issue here” stated Dr Anne Hudson, Head teacher Langley Park. No more kicking the can down the road, it’s time for ACTION.

Anxious looking woman

“I NEED HELP!!!”

ADVISE ME, IM A…
… Student
… Parent
… Maths teacher
Head teacher

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