To understand what numeracy means (either in a formal context or how people, in general, interpret what is meant by the term) is complex. There are many versions, confusions and misconceptions arising from the fact that the use of numbers pervades every part of society and the assumption that the skills needed are those taught in the mathematics classroom.
The differences and commonalities between mathematics and numeracy are the main contributors to the confusion of ‘what is numeracy’. This can then lead to reluctance and negative attitudes towards numeracy, as experience of the former is assumed to cover the other. Practitioners’ own experiences can have far-reaching implications for learners and society’s apparent acceptance of ‘innumeracy’ makes the task of raising standards challenging and multi-faceted.
The use of language and other forms of communication in the learning and teaching of numeracy can positively influence the acquisition of numerical ideas and numeracy skills, as well as overcoming stigma and myths associated with these. The focus of the National Numeracy Programme (NNP) and National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) is to ensure everyone acquires the numeracy skills to problem solve in everyday life contexts. The importance of this has been reflected in the statutory nature of the LNF, the national testing and the reporting of the results to parents/carers.