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Numeracy Across Curriculum initiative launched at UL-based National Centre for STEM Education

Jerry O’Sullivan, Deputy Chief Executive ESB, Professor Kerstin Mey, VP Academic Affairs University of Limerick, Professor Merrilyn Goos, Director of EPI∙STEM and John O’Donoghue, Professor Emeritus University of Limerick at launch of the NAC initiative Picture: Don Moloney
Tue, 21 May 2019

A year-long pilot programme aimed at developing strategies for teaching numeracy across the school curriculum has been launched at the University of Limerick.

EPI∙STEM, the National Centre for STEM Education based in the University of Limerick, announced the new Numeracy Across the Curriculum (NAC) initiative this Monday.

The year-long research and development project aims to develop strategies for teaching numeracy across the curriculum and will be piloted in primary and secondary schools across Limerick and Clare from August.

Numeracy connects the mathematics learned at school with real-world situations that require problem-solving and critical judgment. For numeracy to be useful to students it needs to be learned in multiple contexts and in all school subjects – not just mathematics.

The initiative is based on ten years of research undertaken by Professor Merrilyn Goos (Director of EPISTEM) and her Australian colleagues Vince Geiger, Shelley Dole, Helen Forgasz and Anne Bennison. Pulling from their extensive research, Goos and her colleagues developed guidance for teachers on how to embed numeracy across all subjects within the curriculum and to support teachers in assessing numeracy learning and dealing with the challenges of working within the boundaries of specific subjects. 

Goos and her colleagues have published their findings in the book “Numeracy Across the Curriculum: Research based strategies for enhancing teaching and learning” which was officially launched in Ireland at Monday’s announcement and is available now. 

“The Numeracy Across the Curriculum initiative has had great success over the last number of years in my native Australia,” said Prof Goos at the announcement. 

“Empowering teachers to help their students use mathematics to solve every day problems, or make evidence based judgements, can be transformational. It is about looking at maths not from a closed discipline /subject perspective but how it is applied in real life contexts.”

The book provides a practical guide for both pre service and in service teachers on understanding numeracy and its application in both primary and post primary secondary schools in Ireland. Seven schools across the Limerick/Clare region have been selected to take part in the pilot scheme, which starts in August.

“The programme will establish meaningful and beneficial connections between schools across the Limerick and Clare region and my team here in UL, while simultaneously addressing a national priority by developing schools of excellence in the area of numeracy and ensuring that teachers equipped with the skills to become Numeracy Ambassadors and Champions,” added Prof Goos.

The NAC project seeks to develop teachers’ understanding of numeracy, while also guiding teachers on how to recognise and embed numeracy opportunities within their subject area. It will provide teachers with ideas, classroom activities and resources that they can use to develop students’ numeracy skills and will offer practical guidance for both schools and teachers.

Jerry O’Sullivan, Deputy Chief Executive, ESB, welcomed the launch of the book and the initiative.

“The Numeracy Across The Curriculum project will provide teachers with ideas, classroom activities and resources that they can use to develop students’ numeracy skills and will offer practical guidance for both schools and teachers,” he said.

“ESB is committed to supporting STEAM education and learning as a way of empowering young people to fulfil their potential, and encouraging them to positively engage with the issues and challenges facing society. Initiatives like this project, with the goal of supporting positive dispositions towards the use of mathematics to solve problems encountered in day-to-day life, can only benefit young people and enable them to develop the skills necessary to critically assess the world around them and become the problem solvers and innovators of the future,” he added.