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New Australian research supports need to make maths a national priority

1 May, 2017


  • Westpac research reveals a positive correlation between an adult’s income and their level of maths education.
  • Australians who are confident in their maths ability are more likely to be satisfied with their career (50%) and life overall (63%), compared to those who are not (31% and 50%).
  • 25 per cent of Australian parents would not be comfortable helping a child complete maths at a high school level.
  • Half (49%) of parents, or those intending to be, are concerned their lack of maths skills will have a negative impact on their children.


New research released today shows stronger maths skills could lead to a higher income and level of overall life satisfaction for Australians, supporting the need to make maths a national priority.


The 2017 Westpac Numeracy Study found those who completed a higher level of maths education were more likely to rate themselves as satisfied in their job[1], career[2], financial situation[3] and life overall[4].


The study also found a difference between the average income levels[5] of those who completed maths up to years 11 – 12 ($47,777) compared to those who only completed maths up to years 7-10 ($40,571). In addition, it found those who completed maths at a university level[6] earned an average of $71,867.


With the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)[7] and international benchmark study (PISA)[8] showing a declining level of maths in Australia compared to other countries, Westpac has partnered with innovative digital maths platform, Mathspace, to provide free access to all Australians to Mathspace Essentials.


Ashley Gray, Head of Youth and Millennial Markets at Westpac Group said: “As Australia’s first bank and oldest company, we are committed to helping the next generation develop strong numeracy skills. Numeracy plays a critical role throughout many life stages, from purchasing your first home and starting a family to transitioning to a comfortable retirement.”


Mr Gray added: “We’ve partnered with Mathspace because we believe their interactive digital platform is market leading, and with the help of parents and teachers has the ability to increase Australia’s national maths standards. If you get the maths right, you’re in good stead to get the rest right.”


Mathspace CEO and co-founder, Mohamad Jebara, said learning continues beyond the classroom, and parents need to have the tools to support children at home.


“Nearly half of current Australian jobs are at risk of being disrupted by automation and technology. We have the very real and very challenging job of training our children for jobs that don’t yet exist. One thing we know for certain, is that the majority of the jobs of tomorrow will require strong mathematics skills, and we’re not producing enough students with these skills,” commented Mr Jebara.


Westpac’s study also found that children with parents who are neutral or discouraging about maths, are more likely to think they’re not smart enough to do maths (49% vs those with encouraging parents 20%) and are more likely to think maths is too hard (63% vs those with encouraging parents 39%).


However, when it comes to helping their children with maths work, one quarter of parents (25%) say they would not be comfortable helping a child complete maths at a high school level, and half (49%) of parents, or those intending to be, are concerned their lack of maths skills will have a negative impact on their children.


Additional findings from the survey show that when it comes to teaching methods, the majority of Australian children (74%) and adults (86%) agree that multiple choice alone does not provide a proper assessment of a student’s maths ability. Additionally, 3 in 4 (74%) children say that even if they get the correct answer, they do not always know how they got there.


Mr Jebara added: “What makes Mathspace different is its ability to provide step-by-step adaptive maths learning. The platform offers real-time formative feedback on a student’s working, as well as tailored guidance on how to calculate the answer. We’re not just testing a student’s knowledge of the final answer, but actually meeting them where they are and helping them master any gaps in their understanding.”


This week, with NAPLAN on the horizon, Westpac and Mathspace have also launched ‘Solve to Save’ – a program which gives students who subscribe to Mathspace’s premium product, Mathspace Plus, the opportunity to have the $10 weekly subscription fee deposited as a reward back into a Westpac account if they successfully complete their weekly maths tasks[9].


The Westpac and Mathspace partnership follows the launch of Westpac’s Bump initiative, which provides Australians born in 2017 a $200 contribution to their own Westpac savings account, which can be accessed when they are 16 years old. This initiative is designed to encourage positive savings habits early in life.


For more information, and to access Mathspace Essentials, visit


About the 2017 Westpac Numeracy Survey

The research was commissioned by Westpac and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan Research surveyed 1,025 Australians aged 18+ and 502 Australians aged 5-17 years old. Surveys were distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and regional areas. The survey was conducted online amongst members of a permission-based panel, between 6 and 10 January 2017. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

About the partnership

As part of Westpac’s bicentennial celebrations and commitment to supporting all Australians, Westpac has partnered with Mathspace to support Australians in achieving a brighter future by strengthening fundamental numeracy skills. Mathspace is globally regarded as one of the best digital maths platform providers due to its world first step-by-step adaptive learning technology. Mathspace offers the full Australian curriculum for years 3 to 12, as well as some international curriculum. It also includes comprehensive financial literacy modules.

About Mathspace Essentials

Mathspace Essentials is an entirely new kind of textbook that’s dynamic, engaging and truly interactive, with topics covering primary from year 3 to year 12. It contains world-class content aligned to the Australian curriculum, with 30,000+ practice questions with step-by-step hints and 7000+ video lessons created by real maths teachers.

About Mathspace Plus

In addition to the textbook, Mathspace Plus also offers a personal digital maths tutor, which tracks your progress to give you a tailored maths program in real-time. This premium product uses adaptive learning technology. Students using Mathspace Plus can keep a complete record of their history, and can track their progress through the curriculum.


[1] Job satisfaction: Those who completed maths up to Years 7-10 (50%); Years 11-12 (55%); University (59%)

[2] Career satisfaction: Those who completed maths up to Years 7-10 (42%); Years 11-12 (45%); University (58%)

[3] Satisfied with financial situation: Those who completed maths up to Years 7-10 (39%); Years 11-12 (41%); University (59%)

[4] Satisfaction with life overall: Those who completed maths up to Years 7-10 (53%); Years 11-12 (62%); University (64%)

[5] Personal income before tax, excluding those who preferred not to disclose their income

[6] Including undergraduate and postgraduate studies

[7] Results of the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) show that Australian Year 4 students were significantly outperformed by students in 21 countries in mathematics. At Year 8, Australian students were outperformed by those in 12 countries (link to 2011 report here and 2015 report here)

[8] Results from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show Australia’s average trend in Maths performance (score-point change per three-year period between 2003 or later and 2015) has dropped by 8 points

[9] The account holder will be charged the Mathspace Plus $10 weekly subscription fee. If the student successfully completes the weekly maths tasks, they will receive a deposit of $10 into their nominated Westpac bank account.