Education Endowment Foundation:EEF Blog: TOLD: Four Evidence-informed principles to promote high-quality talk in Maths

EEF Blog: TOLD: Four Evidence-informed principles to promote high-quality talk in Maths

Maximising opportunities to develop pupils’ mathematical understanding
Kirstin Mulholland
Kirstin Mulholland
Associate for school engagement and evidence use

EEF’s Mathematics Content Specialist, Kirstin Mulholland, introduces a new resource for teachers and school leaders.

Blog •1 minute •

Classroom talk is important. In my own practice, I consistently built opportunities for pupils to discuss their ideas into my lessons. Yet now, looking back, I wonder whether I actually supported pupils to maximise these opportunities for developing their mathematical understanding.

The importance of talk in promoting learning is evident across multiple recommendations in both the EEF’s Improving Mathematics in the Early Years and Key Stage 1’ and Improving Mathematics in Key Stages 2 and 3’ guidance reports.

Other research, such as Howe et al. (2019), also highlights the significance of encouraging pupils to query and elaborate upon each other’s ideas, as well as supporting all pupils to engage in classroom dialogue.

This work, amongst others, offers four evidence-informed principles for promoting high-quality talk in maths. This can be remembered using the acronym TOLD’:

TOLD Poster 0 32 digital page 0001

Together, these principles can assist teachers in developing the talk ongoing in our classrooms in order to support pupils’ exploration of mathematical ideas and concepts, to ultimately extend thinking and learning.


Howe, C., Hennessy, S., Mercer, N., Vrikki, M., & Wheatley, L. (2019) Teacher – Student Dialogue During Classroom Teaching: Does It Really Impact on Student Outcomes?’, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 28(4 – 5), pp. 462 – 512. DOI: 10.1080/10508406.2019.1573730