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New school maths course to teach students how to budget and read their payslip

NSW will introduce a new year 11 and 12 HSC maths course to help students master the everyday numeracy skills they will need in their adult lives, such as understanding taxes, making a budget and keeping accounts.

An evaluation of the numeracy course found it increased mathematics participation by up to 11 per cent for students studying vocational education and training courses, and by up to eight per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

It also increased the engagement of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Numeracy will count towards the HSC but is a category B course, meaning there is no exam and it will not contribute to an Australian Tertiary Entrance Rank calculation. The existing category B maths course, Maths Standard 1, can either be taken as an ATAR or non-ATAR subject.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the new course was part of the NSW Mathematics Strategy, which was aimed at ensuring all students had the support they needed to develop key numeracy skills and apply them to life.

“We’ve seen increased engagement particularly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students in rural and remote areas and students studying vocational education and training courses,” she said.

The review, by the NSW Department of Education’s Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, found schools were using the course to support students who were disengaged or struggling with mathematics.

HSC Numeracy was developed by the NSW Education Standards Authority and focuses on budgeting, shopping and account keeping. Students learn to analyse a mobile phone contract, read a payslip and understand taxes.

Teachers support the course and it has increased confidence among students who might otherwise have failed to master the fundamental numeracy skills they would need to navigate everyday life after they left school.

In 2019, 82 per cent of students took at least one mathematics course in their HSC.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald