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Numeracy and mathematics

Mathematics is important in our everyday life, allowing us to make sense of the world around us and to manage our lives. Using mathematics enables us to model real-life situations and make connections and informed predictions. It equips us with the skills we need to interpret and analyse information, simplify and solve problems, assess risk and make informed decisions.

Mathematics plays an important role in areas such as science or technologies, and is vital to research and development in fields such as engineering, computing science, medicine and finance. Learning mathematics gives children and young people access to the wider curriculum and the opportunity to pursue further studies and interests.

Being numerate helps us to function responsibly in everyday life and contribute effectively to society. It increases our opportunities within the world of work and establishes foundations which can be built upon through lifelong learning. Numeracy is not only a subset of mathematics; it is also a life skill which permeates and supports all areas of learning, allowing young people access to the wider curriculum.

Practical support and resources

National Numeracy and Mathematics Hub: provides access to a secure online area which provides a wealth of professional learning for a wide range of aspects related to numeracy and mathematics. This includes examples of effective practice from establishments and local authorities. Professional learning resources based on the findings from the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) 2015 are available here. There is a Yammer Group which encourages and supports professional discussion with practitioners across Scotland and the opportunity to share resources. All Education Scotland resources for numeracy and mathematics can be accessed here. (Requires a Glow log-in.)

Numeracy and Mathematics Skills Professional Learning resource - This professional learning resource is designed to support improvement by highlighting eight key skills required to support and extend knowledge and understanding in numeracy and mathematics: interpreting questions; selecting and communicating processes and solutions; justifying the choice of strategy used; linking mathematical concepts; using mathematical vocabulary and notation; mental agility; algebraic reasoning; and determining the reasonableness of a solution.

Differentiated learning in numeracy and mathematics (2015): Briefing 1 - A short, practitioner-focused research briefing which summarises research on differentiated learning and considers how it could be used to improve learner outcomes in numeracy and mathematics. It has a particular focus on meeting the needs of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

SSLN Professional Learning Resource - Numeracy: ​this resource provides guidance and advice to help inform learning and teaching practice in line with the main objectives of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN). It includes information on children's and young people's strengths and areas for improvement, specifically within measurement, fractions, decimal fractions and percentages (including ratio and proportion, and ideas of chance and uncertainty).

SSLN Professional learning resource - Time: This resource aims to share children and young people’s performance in ‘Time’ in relation to the findings of SSLN. This, and the following two resources, have been designed to support improvement by promoting professional reflection, dialogue and debate about numeracy.

SSLN - Numeracy - Number and number processes: This resource aims to share children’s and young people’s performance in ‘Number and number processes’.

SSLN - Numeracy - Estimating and rounding: ​This resource aims to share children’s and young people’s performance in ‘Estimating and rounding’.

Higher order thinking skills in maths: This resource illustrates practical activities to improve learning and teaching skills. It will support improvement by utilising higher order thinking skills by tackling the following key areas: problem solving:  seeking and identifying strategies and reasoning; comprehension and interpretation of statistics; flexibility of thinking; using and understanding appropriate mathematical vocabulary; identifying the steps and using a number of operation; realising the importance of accurate calculations; and applying inverse operations.

Find more resources, examples of practice, research and improvement frameworks and tools for numeracy and mathematics in the National Improvement Hub.

Events and activities

Maths Week Scotland, 10–16 September 2018 - Experience the benefits, joy and beauty of maths in exciting new ways by participating in Maths Week Scotland, a brand new initiative to help everyone in Scotland see maths positively. For more information on planned activities, visit the Making Maths Count blog.

Key documents

Experiences and outcomes

Principles and practice documents


National Numeracy and Mathematics Progression Framework

Transforming Scotland into a maths positive nation: final report of the Making Maths Count group

National Qualifications

Browse our NQ site to find subject-specific materials on numeracy and mathematics.

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