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The ability to apply and interpret numbers and numerical information. Identified as one of the essential skills needed in the world of work, numeracy became a core skill on training programmes such as the Youth Training Scheme and on projects such as the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative in schools. It later became a component of the key skills which were incorporated into the General National Vocational Qualification, where it was referred to as application of number; and later, following the implementation of Curriculum 2000, it became a key skill applied to all 16–19 qualifications. Teachers themselves must demonstrate an appropriate level of numeracy, both in schools and in the further education sector; for the former through the teacher training skills test and for the latter through testing of the minimum core. An individual who is competent in numeracy is termed ‘numerate’, while one who is not may be referred to as ‘innumerate’. One of the earliest references to the term itself was in the Crowther Report (1959), which argued that numeracy, as well as literacy, was an essential skill and central to a sound education. See also National Numeracy Strategy.

Subjects: Education.

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