Numeracy skills and problem solving

What do I need to know?

Children and young people’s success in numeracy is underpinned by:

  • good knowledge and understanding of concepts
  • capability in numeracy skills.
 Diagram describing numeracy skills

It is vital that teachers are familiar with, and understand the impact of, numeracy skills on learners’ development. Well-developed numeracy skills will ensure children and young people have confidence to apply their knowledge and understanding of numeracy in new or unfamiliar situations.

Click on image to enlarge.

Illustrative example – numeracy skills development in the classroom

For example, children and young people might be planning an event which requires a budget and/or resources.

In doing so, they will need to draw on a range of numeracy skills to carry out the activity successfully.

This table exemplifies how these skills contribute to children and young people’s success in numeracy.

Comprehension 50comprehension and interpretationResearching ‘deals’ for products online to identify the best deal based on numerical information
Secondary organiser 50connecting learning from across experiences and outcomes (combining different numeracy organisers)Drawing up table of costs on excel spread sheets
(data handling)
Imputing correct operations or formulas into the spreadsheet to calculate quantities or prices
(number and number processes)
Problem solving 50problem solving and reasoningPlanning for an event
working out how much of a specific resource is required
Notation and vocabulary 50using and understanding mathematical notation and vocabularyDiscussing, using appropriate vocabulary, the risks involved in decisions
Estimation 50estimating and checking the reasonableness of the answerEstimating to get a rough idea of how many/how much based on a combination of numeracy skills and context
Calculating, as appropriate, to find exact quantities/amounts required
Accurate calculation 50realising the importance of accurate calculationsDiscussing the consequences involved in incorrect calculations
Resilience 50resilience – ability to stick to a taskSupporting learners to stick to the task, even when it becomes challenging by providing a real purpose
Number of operations 50number of operations and intermediate stepsKnowing or working out which operation is appropriate
e.g. can learners identify the operations necessary to calculate 20% discounts?
Flexible thinking 50flexible thinkingRelating a previous learning experience to the current task
‘I remember when I had to do something like this in…’
Application of inverse operations 50application of inverse operations which require direct operations to be known wellRecognising when working backwards is appropriate. e.g. when bulk buying products, working backwards to calculate how much one item would cost

When children and young people are applying their knowledge, understanding and skills in unfamiliar contexts, they are problem solving.