How free maths courses could help Lancashire residents manage their money and boost their job prospects

Lancashire adults without a good Maths GCSE will soon be able to get specialist support to gain the numeracy skills they might lack - but need - in their everyday life.

Monday, 20th June 2022, 8:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 8:24 am

Free courses and personal tutoring will be offered to residents aged 19 or over who do not have at least a grade 4 - formerly a grade C - in the subject.

The idea is to help those who could benefit from increasing their confidence with numbers in both their personal and professional lives.

The programmes will be funded with £7.5m from the government’s Multiply scheme, which will see local authorities across the country allocated a fixed sum to make maths a less daunting prospect for people who may have struggled with it in the past.

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The planned new courses could help people who find their personal finances tough to manage because they struggle with maths

Lancashire County Council is in line for £5.9m, while Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen councils will get £770,000 and £851,000 respectively. The three authorities now have to submit investment plans setting out how they propose to spend the cash.

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Papers presented to a recent meeting of the county council’s cabinet revealed that the intention is to provide people with the practical skills to deal with household finances, help their children with homework and make more sense of statistics in the media - as well as to improve their job prospects.

The government wants local authorities to focus on addressing the “fear factor” that colours some people’s perceptions of maths and, in doing so, help them better manage their money and enable them either to get a new job or promotion from their current role.

One of the measures that will be used to determine the success of the scheme is whether local employers report a reduction in “skills gaps” amongst their workforce.

Courses will be developed in partnership with local colleges, Lancashire Adult Learning and also community organisations, in order to attract potential learners regarded as being ‘hard to reach’ - such as those who are currently out of work.

The individual programmes, whoch are due to start this September, are expected to be flexible and fit around the lives of those who might register for them - and will be supported by a nationwide online learning platform from the Department for Education. In some cases, the courses might culminate in a GCSE or a Functional Skills Qualification.

County Hall’s cabinet member for education and skills Jayne Rear said that the authority would work with its standalone council neighbours in Blackpool and Blackburn to ensure that there was “good accessibility” to courses across the whole of Lancashire and no unnecessary duplication.

Meanwhile, cabinet member for economic development and growth Aidy Riggott said that the scheme - together with the £1.25m Lancashire recently received for so-called “skills bootcamps” would help to give the county's residents “increased opportunities”.

Offenders recently released from prison - or out on licence - could also be targeted for maths support.

The county council's executive directors of growth and education will award funding for all of the individual projects approved under the Multiply scheme, in consultation with the two corresponding cabinet members.

Multiply funding will be spread over the next three years and forms one of two strands of the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces the European Structural and Investment Fund, as that EU scheme ceases next year.