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Astrophysicist and Heart Doctor show that ‘Numeracy Counts’

Some of Scotland’s brightest and most talented young people have joined forces to tackle the scourge of poor numeracy which blights lives and hinders careers for a significant proportion of the population.

The most recent Scottish Government statistical survey of literacy and numeracy – focused on numeracy – is due to be published in April this year. The last survey, published two years ago, involved 11,000 children and showed that around 32% of pupils were not performing well in numeracy by Second Year level in secondary schools, and also that this poor performance was linked to deprivation.

Around a quarter of adults are reckoned to have difficulties affecting their daily lives through literacy and numeracy problems, with around one person in 30 suffering from severe problems.

An astrophysicist and a heart doctor are amongst a group from the Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) keen to use their inter-disciplinary areas of work to show how maths and numeracy are vital in both their day-to-day and working lives.

Neil McLennan, co-chair of the YAS’s Excellence in Education group commented “This resource can be used anywhere and at anytime to encourage young people to be confident  with numbers.”

A new free web resource, ‘Numeracy Counts’ ( is now accessible to pupils from Scotland and across the world.  It contains videos of Young Academy  members showing how they use a variety of number skills on a daily basis. Astrophysicist Catherine Heymans describes how using spread-sheets can not only help in her work using some of the world’s biggest telescopes, but also in budgeting to save for every day items like a mobile phone. Marc Dweck also talks about the importance of numeracy in his work as a cardiologist and how he uses numbers to find out more about the diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks.

The Young Academy of Scotland envisions that this resource will grow into further curriculum areas. The organisation also hopes that it will help to encourage businesses, organisations and parents to talk to learners about how theskills developed in the classroom will be used in their place of work.

Neil McLennan said: “It is vitally important that young people see the relevance of skills learned in the classroom linked to the everyday world and the world of work.  The videos are all interesting, informative and inspiring.”