Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

‘Statistical Literacy: How To Understand And Calculate Percentages’

It's a handy little guide, well suited to those who are struggling with understanding Maths.

Here are a couple of examples.

Q: ‘What’s the idea behind percentages?’

A: ‘Percentages are essentially a way of writing a fraction with 100 on the bottom. For example: 20 per cent is the same as 20/100, 30 per cent is the same as 30/100 and 110 per cent is the same as 110/100.’


Q: ‘The basics - what is 40 per cent of 50?

A: Example 1: To calculate what 40 per cent of 50 is, first write 40 per cent as a fraction – 40/100 – and then multiply this by 50: 40 per cent of 50 = (40/100) x 50 = 0.4 x 50 = 20.’

Who is this educational booklet designed for?

Is it children at primary school - working towards KS2 targets
  1. recognise the equivalence between the decimal and fraction forms of one half, quarters, tenths and hundredths; understand that 'percentage' means the 'number of parts per 100' and that it can be used for comparisons; find percentages of whole number quantities, using a calculator where appropriate
  2. recognise approximate proportions of a whole and use simple fractions and percentages to describe them, explaining their methods and reasoning
  3. solve simple problems involving ratio and direct proportion
Is the booklet designed to help those studying Maths at Britain's wonderful comprehensives or academies and aiming for KS3?
  • in their heads, do some calculations involving decimals, fractions, percentages, factors, powers and roots
  • give one number as a fraction or percentage of another
  • use the relationships between fractions, decimals, percentages, ratio and proportion to solve problems

No, this booklet is not for either of these groups of learners.

The booklet has been written to help the grown-ups who work here.

Perhaps Mark Wallace is right :-

Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘The Commons authorities must have a very low opinion of MPs’ grasp of mathematics if they have spent taxpayers’ money to show them how to do straightforward percentages.
‘We need people in Parliament who have a sound command of complex figures or the Government is never going to get the nation out of debt.
‘If MPs need help to work out that 200 is 20 per cent of 1,000, it is little wonder the nation’s finances are in such an awful mess....’

1 comment:

Witterings From Witney said...

Mrs. R,

Understandable but have you not realised a booklet such as the one you quote has been produced for those who failed their 11+, those who 'wasted' their education, those who 'society has passed by', those who failed 'O' level maths on the xxxth attempt, those whose only option in life, in order to earn a living, was to become an MP?

Another of your lovely 'caustic' posts by the way!