New trials will build the evidence base to improve adult numeracy

Five new DfE-funded trials promise to develop a clearer sense of what works in improving adult numeracy - and you can be part of them

Five new DfE-funded trials promise to develop a clearer sense of what works in improving adult numeracy - and you can be part of them

3 May 2024, 5:00

Numeracy skills are vital in enabling people to improve their well-being and to access better jobs and better options for the future. However, more than eight million adults in England have numeracy skills lower than those expected of a 9-year-old and evidence suggests the majority of the country’s youngest jobseekers today are less numerate than their grandparents.

Confidence with numbers helps people with many everyday tasks from cooking to budgeting and helping children with homework. Brushing up on numeracy skills can also support people’s career progression and help them access higher levels of training.

So in 2022 the Department for Education (DfE) launched Multiply, its flagship programme to improve adult numeracy. Up to £270 million is directly available for local areas to deliver innovative interventions to improve adult numeracy.

There have been over 113,000 course starts to January 2024, with many more people engaged in outreach and engagement activity to build their confidence with numbers.

With such significant government investment, we want to build on this success and ensure evidence-based approaches inform future adult skills policy and delivery, and ultimately help improve outcomes for adult learners.  

That is why Tribal are working with the DfE and partners to launch a series of research trials over 2024 and 2025, designed to test the effectiveness of existing and new approaches to improving adult numeracy.

The research and evidence from these trials will be used to determine the most effective strategies to engage learners and teach adult numeracy skills. By grounding interventions in evidence, policymakers, educators and practitioners can maximise the impact of numeracy programmes and ensure resources are utilised efficiently.

Rolling out effective trials

Multiply has launched a research initiative to understand what works in adult numeracy through trials designed to identify effective strategies and interventions to help adults improve their numeracy skills.

In partnership with Campaign for Learning, Education and Training Foundation, IPSOS and King’s College London among others, we are rolling out five trials, with the majority starting in September:

  1. Preparation for GCSE mathematics
  2. An adapted mastery approach to functional skills qualification level 1
  3. A contextualised approach to functional skills qualification level 1
  4. Embedding maths in health and social care level 2, and
  5. A family numeracy programme.

The trials will be fully funded, and incentives are available. They also provide an exciting opportunity for training providers to contribute to research, collaborate with other organisations and access free training for staff to take part, all of which can enhance their existing provision.

Improving outcomes

These trials will help carve out a pathway to a more effective adult numeracy teaching landscape. By taking part you will be randomly allocated to a treatment (delivering something new) or control (business as usual) group.

If you are in the treatment group, it will be an opportunity to deliver something innovative that has potential to improve results for learners. If you are in the control group, you will continue to deliver your business-as-usual curriculum. Both groups are vital to the research and will receive payment for being involved.  

If you are in the treatment group, the interventions can slot seamlessly into guided learning hours making it easy for adult learning organisations and teachers to incorporate them into current practices.

Organisations will be fully supported to deliver this new scheme of work, and teachers will receive high-quality training ahead of the new academic year.

Investing in adult maths education that is evidence-based is essential to bridge skills gaps, promote social inclusion and unlock the full potential of people across society, helping to foster a more prosperous and equal future.

By adopting evidence-based approaches and leveraging effective strategies we can enhance adult numeracy education and unlock the full potential of individuals and communities across the country.

If you are a local area or a provider delivering maths provision to adults and would like to be involved, we’d love to hear from you.  To register your interest or for more information here

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