“Fears for economy as one in five fail maths” screamed the ORIGINAL headline.
Now, after some hasty revision, the headline reads “Fears for economy as more pupils fail maths”. Ahem.
In the original article, now revised to spare blushes, the reported just added (doh!) 4.5% to 12.3% and 5.7% to get 22.5%. It seemed like a satisfyingly large figure and just calls out for a major, hyper-ventilating headline that threatens world destruction and economic calamity. Quite aside from getting the figures completely wrong, the reporter drew utterly unsubstantiated conclusions from sparse data. How will a bunch of 17 and 18 year old failing in maths threaten the economy? Okay, he would argue that they’ll fail to take up courses requiring maths, like engineering and computer science. But, surely there are plenty of jobs left in journalism that quite obviously do not require the slightest grasp of mathematics!