AGFS Approach to Numeracy Development 

Why is Numeracy so important?

In 2017, Sir Adrian Smith published a review of post-16 mathematics education for the government. Some key quotes from the report can be found below:

  • ‘Adults with basic numeracy skills earn higher wages and are more likely to be in employment than those who fail to master these skills.’
  • ‘Individuals who achieve five or more good GCSEs (including English and mathematics) as their highest qualification have a lifetime productivity gain worth around £100,000 compared to those with below level 2 or no qualifications.’
  • ‘Around half of individuals in jobs where mathematical sciences qualifications are essential were found to have salaries of £29,000 or more, compared with only 19 per cent of the UK workforce overall.’
  • ‘In the UK, around seven in ten employees report that quantitative skills are essential or important to carry out their work. … In 2012, around 20 percent of young people in the UK did not have basic skills.’

Since 2017, the situation has not improved, in 2022 a government study found that around 17 million adults in England - half the working-age population - have the numeracy skills of a primary school aged child.  


Why is Numeracy important in our school context? 

  • Only 10% of scholars arriving at Ark Greenwich Free School have the expected Numerical Literacy of a Year 7 student
  • Largest ethnic groups = black African and white British. These two ethnic groups have the lowest overall progress score nationally. 
  • 58% male cohort. 
  • 34% of students receive PPG. 
  • School’s catchment area encapsulates postcodes from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most deprived deciles in the UK. 
  • Greenwich is the sixth most deprived local authority in England. In 2019, Royal Borough of Greenwich had the 2nd lowest progress score in London for GCSE outcomes and in the UK overall.


Numeracy Intent: 

The objective of the mathematics curriculum at Ark Greenwich Free School is to provide pupils with a foundation for understanding the increasingly mathematical world and equip them with the critical skills required to participate in society. An essential building block of this curriculum is our Numeracy programme. 

Our Numeracy programme has been carefully structured to give scholars the mathematical knowledge and processes required to access lessons by rapidly closing critical ‘gaps’ in students’ mathematical knowledge.

We firmly believe that no scholar will be held back by poor numeracy skills, or a lack of confidence with numeracy at our school. 

Our aim is for 80% of our pupils to achieve a Grade 4 or 5 in a Foundation GCSE Paper by the end of KS3, so that 50% of scholars can get a grade 7 and 95% can achieve a grade 4 by the end of KS4.


Implementation: What we do

Before our scholars join us in Year 7 they are given a copy of their Provisional Numeracy Licence. This booklet carefully targets the skills which will be essential to success in secondary school.

We then follow a process which both supports and stretches scholars, based on their current level of attainment.

Our subscriptions to online platforms such as Sparx Maths allow our scholars to access additional resources from home and receive instant feedback when completing online tasks. Tasks are set as independent learning by Maths teachers, but scholars are also able to choose videos, interactive questions and worksheets themselves to support their learning.

Impact: What we have achieved

Our scholars have made significant progress with these skills and Ark Greenwich Free School has made the most progress of any school in the Ark Network. In September of Y7, 10% of scholars passed their fundamental skills assessment, this has now increased to over 50% of the year group.

Earlier this year, 50% of our Y8 scholars passed this baseline. this has now increased to 70% of the year group.

Amongst the scholars who have not yet passed, we have seen huge improvements in these essential skills, with the average score in the year group increasing significantly.


This leads to exceptional GCSE outcomes from our scholars, with an average of 77% of our scholars achieving a Grade 4+ at GCSE, 30% of our scholars receiving a Grade 7+ over thelast 3 years and a negligible gap in outcomes for our PPG scholars by the end of Y11.