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Carol charms Tories as she heads maths task force

A snowball fight between David Cameron, the Tory leader, and the nation's favourite - and only - celebrity number-cruncher Carol Vorderman kicked off the party's new maths task force this week.

The former Countdown calculator will lead the group, looking into teaching methods and tackling people's "fear" of the subject.

The decision to bring in Ms Vorderman will not go unnoticed in government circles since she once toured schools alongside the former prime minister Tony Blair when he first took office.

As schools closed their doors in blizzard-like conditions, Ms Vorderman gave Labour an icy blast of her own by denouncing its performance over the past decade.

She arrived at the party HQ in Westminster dressed in blue, sending many Tory pulses racing. She then sent the blood pressure of the party's old guard off the scale when she spoke of the Government "failing thousands of children".

"Since Labour took power on their famous mantra of 'education, education, education', 3.5 million children have left school without a basic qualification in maths - a shocking statistic," she said.

Ms Vorderman said she was the right woman to sort out Britain's maths woes. But she disappointed a few Tories when she made it clear she would not be giving anyone a "ticking off".

Ms Vorderman added: "This will be a laterally thinking review and we will be working with a number of experts and consulting in every region with schools, parents, teachers and, most importantly, the children themselves."

Mr Cameron spoke of "Britain's problem" when it came to maths.

"We've got a real problem in this country," he said. "When you look at the vision of what can be and compare it to what's happening right now, the numbers just don't add up. Nearly half of all 11-year-olds leave primary school without basic numeracy skills.

"Under Labour, more than 3.5 million children have left school without at least a C in maths GSCE. And our top universities have to do remedial maths courses for science undergraduates to get them up to scratch.

"That's why we've slipped from eighth in the international league tables for maths just eight years ago to 24th today."

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