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```Improving Statistical Literacy
in School and Society:
The UK Experience
Peter Holmes
Education, Nottingham, England
Background
40 years in UK Schools
 Initially for age 16 to 18 academic
students
 Later for all ages 7 to 18 and all abilities

The Initial Introduction
Part of a specialist mathematics course
 An alternative to theoretical mechanics
 Suitable for students of biology,
geography & economics
 Content classical mathematical
statistics - probability, distributions,
hypothesis testing, correlation &
regression

Two Trends
Disappointment with the course for 16 18 year olds
 Rise of modern mathematics in
secondary schools

Disappointment
Emphasised mathematics rather than
statistics
 Did not develop practical skills
 Was not as much use to other subject
areas as hoped

Into the Main School
Education for everyone (Half our
Future)
 Emphasis on numeracy - using number
in practice
 Simple probability and statistical
representation in secondary schools
 Collecting and interpreting data in
primary schools

Schools Council Project on
Statistical Education
 6 year programme costing then £250k
(say 1.6 million Euros today)
 What is statistics? Why teach it? Who
and how teach it?
 Develop teaching materials

What is Statistics?
What statisticians do!!
 Statistics is a practical subject devoted
to obtaining and processing data with a
view to making statements which often
extend beyond the data. These
statements are called inferences.

Why Teach Statistics to All?
Statistics is an integral part of our
culture
 Statistical thinking is an essential part of
numeracy
 Exposure to real data can aid personal
development and decision making
 Statistical ideas are widely used at work
after school
 Early exposure can give sound intuition,
later formalised

Who and how? - Two
Distracting Reasons
Statistics is an essential part of present
day mathematics
 Statistics is useful to many other parts
of the school curriculum

Two Global Aims Pupils should become aware of and appreciate
The role of statistics in society - the
many and various fields in which
statistical ideas are used
 The nature of statistical thinking - the
power and limitations of statistical
thought

Mathematics Counts - The
Cockcroft report
Government enquiry into teaching of
mathematics (early 1980’s)
 Influential in later developments
 Major references to statistics especially §§775 & 781

§775

Statistics is not just a set of techniques,
it is an attitude of mind in approaching
data. In particular it acknowledges the
fact of uncertainty and variability in data
collection. It enables people to make
decisions in the face of this uncertainty.
§781

Statistical numeracy requires a feel for
numbers, an appreciation of levels of
accuracy, the making of sensible
estimates, a common sense approach
to data in supporting an argument, the
awareness of the variety of
interpretation of figures and a judicious
understanding of widely used concepts
such as mean and percentages. All
these are part of everyday living.
The First National Curriculum
in Mathematics
Mid ‘80s
 For all ages 5 to 16
 Reflected Cockcroft
 About 25% on data handling, little
probability
 Flawed by assessment

Current Proposals for the
National Curriculum
 Slightly less statistics
 More practical and investigational in
approach
 Based an investigational cycle

The Cycle
Specify the
Problem
Plan
Interpret &
Discuss
Process &
Represent
Collect
Data
Pupils should be taught to carry out
every aspect of the Handling Data
Cycle
 Communicate mathematically using
text
 Make decisions about problem solving
strategies to use in their statistical work

Through problems and investigations
gain insight into how statistics are used
in real life to make informed decisions
 Pupils should be introduced to important
uses of statistics in society
 Interpret statistics from society,
including index numbers (General Index
of Retail Prices); time series (population
growth) and survey data (National
Census)

Public
Educational
 Response to Government Consultation
Papers
 Public lectures and meetings
 Media contacts

Educational
Associate School Programme
 Workshops for teachers
 Local Meetings
 Representation on Working Parties and
Development Groups
 Support for the RSS Centre for
Statistical Education

Response to Government
Initiatives
New Centres for teaching and learning
 Institute for learning and teaching
 Environment and Pollution
 Official Statistics

Public Lectures and Meetings
The Beveridge lecture on social issues
 Unemployment measures

Media Contacts

There is a list of members who can be
called on by the Press and other media
for informed statistical comment on any
major issue of the day.
And the Work Continues
```
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