Daily Telegraph’s “Make Britain Count” campaign

English: David Blunkett

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The Daily Telegraph has today launched a “Make Britain Count” campaign.

It’s interesting for several reasons. First of all, despite the paper’s politics it avoids (so far, at least) the likely line that would be taken by the Mail or Express of telling us that we are about to be over-run by hordes of innumerate ruffians from the lower orders, and instead focuses on the relatively small numbers (about 13% in England) taking advanced courses (‘A’ level in England) after 16.

The politics does creep in though – they have repeatedly called it their “numeracy campaign” and yet write:

This deep-rooted problem has not escaped the attention of successive governments. In 1999, David Blunkett introduced the National Numeracy Strategy for all primary schools (updated in 2006). Many questioned the use of the word “numeracy” as a New Labour attempt to rebrand good old-fashioned “mathematics”.

Seems they cannot help themselves, even if it reflects badly on them.

Perhaps the campaign is motivated by the knowledge that many middle class parents often spend large sums on additional tuition for their children in maths – tuition that is often counter productive because it focuses on rote like learning of how to “do sums” rather than an understanding of mathematics.

But is good to see the repeated public boasting in Britain about mathematical ignorance challenged.