Abstract: While numbers, data and statistics have been part of the bureaucracy since the emergence of the nation state, the paper argues that the governance turn has seen the enhancement of the significance of numbers in policy. The policy as numbers phenomenon is exemplified through two Australian cases in education policy, linked to the national schooling reform agenda. The first case deals with the category of students called Language Backgrounds Other than English (LBOTE) in Australian schooling policy ? students with LBOTE. The second deals with the ?closing the gap? approach to Indigenous schooling. The LBOTE case demonstrates an attempt at recognition, but one that fails to create a category useful for policy-makers and teachers in relation to the language needs of Australian students. The Indigenous case of policy misrecognition confirms Gillborn?s analysis of gap talk and its effects; a focus on closing the gap, as with the new politics of recognition, elides structural inequalities and the historical effects of colonisation. With this case, there is a misrecognition that denies Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies and cultural rights. The contribution of the paper to policy sociology is twofold: first in showing how ostensive politics of recognition can work as misrecognition with the potential to deny redistribution and secondly that we need to be aware of the socially constructed nature of categories that underpin contemporary policy as numbers and evidence-based policy.