Maths and numeracy

In the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics, the development of numeracy is linked to the development of mathematics knowledge and gives purpose to the study of the discipline of mathematics.

Mathematics refers to the domain of knowledge (or discipline), while numeracy refers to a person’s ability to apply mathematical aspects and thinking in a range of contexts, including social and everyday life.

Numeracy is not limited to applying number knowledge and skills. Numeracy refers to a person’s ability to apply mathematics and mathematical thinking and reasoning in a range of contexts, including economic, social and everyday life.

As described in the Numeracy general capability of the Australian Curriculum:

‘…students become numerate as they develop the knowledge and skills to use mathematics confidently across other learning areas at school and in their lives more broadly. Numeracy encompasses the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that students need to use mathematics in a wide range of situations. It involves students recognising and understanding the role of mathematics in the world and having the dispositions and capacities to use mathematical knowledge and skills purposefully.’

(ACARA, 2017)

Numeracy


The Australian Curriculum: Numeracy outlines opportunities for using mathematics across all learning areas, as well as detailing how students develop their numeracy skills as they progress through their years of schooling.

National Numeracy Learning Progression

The National Numeracy Learning Progression outlines a sequence of observable indicators of increasingly sophisticated understanding of, and skills in, key numeracy concepts. The progression includes detailed statements of observable student actions to determine how a student is progressing in their numeracy skills and understandings. The progressions give detailed examples for all of the elements and sub-elements of numeracy, and also link to supporting documents containing advice for embedding numeracy in other learning areas.

Evidence base

Explore an overview of contemporary research about numeracy practice in Australia.

Numeracy guide: Kindergarten to Year 2

A guide to support conversations about evidence‑based practice for leadership teams. 

Numeracy guide: Years 3 to 8

A guide to support conversations about evidence‑based practice for leadership teams. 

The following three guides present numeracy-related words and ideas under six numeracy focus areas:

  • Developing number sense
  • Exploring patterns and relationships
  • Using proportional reasoning
  • Understanding and using geometric properties and spatial reasoning
  • Understanding, estimating and using measurement
  • Exploring chance and data

Birth to Year 2

Numeracy-related words and ideas organised under six numeracy focus areas from birth to Year 2.

Years 3 to 8

Numeracy-related words and ideas organised under six numeracy focus areas from Years 3 to Year 8.

Years 9 and 10

Numeracy-related words and ideas organised under six numeracy focus areas for Years 9 and 10.

Developing number sense

Developing number sense includes quantifying numbers, estimating, and using additive and multiplicative strategies. The first two resources listed here are aimed at Years 5 and 6, while the third resource covers Years 4 to 8.

Additive strategies

Resources to support students to apply effective strategies and incorporate reasoning when offering solutions to problems involving additive thinking.

Multiplicative strategies

Resources to support students to develop their efficiency, flexibility and confidence in using a variety of mental strategies to solve problems of a multiplicative nature.

Scaffolding numeracy in the middle years (multiplicative strategies)

This project investigated the efficacy of a new assessment-guided approach to improving student numeracy outcomes in Years 4 to 8. In particular, it was aimed at identifying and refining a learning and assessment framework for the development of multiplicative thinking at this level using rich assessment tasks.