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
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.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
MATHS ANXIETY HANDBOOK
Why does a child need to learn maths?
What is Maths Anxiety?
Why does Maths Anxiety happen?
How and when does Maths Anxiety start?
Can Maths Anxiety be prevented?
Can Maths Anxiety be treated?
What can be done to stop Maths Anxiety?
…And plenty more…
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.
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.
This month, The Maths Anxiety Trust holds its first Summit at UCL. A distinguished group of academics, teachers and politicians will debate what needs to be done to eliminate Maths Anxiety – and what can be done on an immediate basis.
The Maths Anxiety Trust is holding its first major event, a summit on Maths Anxiety on the 13th June at which leading academics and teachers will discuss and debate the issue of Maths Anxiety. The Summit will be filmed and the filmed speeches will be made available on this website in due course. A Policy Report on the Summit will also be available from this website.
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
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.
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.