Education Endowment Foundation:Maths Champions – A winning programme!

Maths Champions – A winning programme!

Grace Coker
Grace Coker
Content Specialist for Maths

Grace Coker, our Mathematics Content Specialist explores a promising new programme

Blog •3 minutes •
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Mathematics plays a key role in a child’s development. Mathematical understanding helps children make sense of the world around them.

Children’s early mathematical understanding is strongly associated with their later school achievement. Developing a sound understanding of mathematics when we are young is essential.

Effective maths teaching requires knowledge of mathematics pedagogy and learning, as well as of mathematics itself.

Effective Professional Development

The first recommendation from our ​‘Improving Mathematics in the Early Years and Key Stage 1’ guidance report highlights the importance of professional development to raise the quality of practitioner knowledge of mathematics, of children’s mathematical development, and of effective mathematical pedagogy.

We know effective professional development can change practice and improve outcomes for children. But for busy, time-poor early years professionals who have demanding roles, it can be challenging to plan effectively with so many competing commitments.

At the EEF, we champion’ the evidence-informed benefits of providing structured professional development and support to staff working in early years settings, and from our latest evaluation report, we may have found a champion’ maths programme.

What is Maths Champions?

The Maths Champions programme builds the knowledge of nursery practitioners to support children’s early mathematical development.

The one-year programme, developed and delivered by National Day Nurseries Association, supports early years settings (both PVI and school-based settings) to improve their maths provision. Each setting nominates a senior member of staff as a Maths Champion” to undertake training and support colleagues to develop their maths teaching practice. A Deputy Maths Champion” is also selected to support their work.

The programme focuses on online training, meaning that practitioners can take part from their setting. The training builds practitioner knowledge by covering topics such as early years maths theory and how to support other staff in the nursery. Practitioners are supported to audit maths practice in their setting, and complete a plan for improvement in maths provision.

Tailored one-to-one remote support helps practitioners monitor progress and make adaptions.

How effective is Maths Champions?

The EEF funded an independent evaluation of the Maths Champions programme to find out its impact on children. Children who took part in the programme made, on average, three months’ additional progress in both maths and language development compared to a similar group of children who didn’t take part in the programme. These findings have a high degree of security, meaning we can be confident in the results.

The programme shows potential in closing the attainment gap between children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers. Children eligible for the Early Years Pupil Premium who took part in the programme made, on average, up to six month’s additional progress in maths. However, this finding should be interpreted with caution as fewer children were included in this analysis.

Costing just over £7 per child per year, the programme offers inexpensive, evidence-informed support for nurseries looking to boost mathematical development in their early years setting.

Because of the positive results this programme has shown, the EEF are exploring further support for the programme to reach more nurseries, with more information to follow in Autumn term.

Most importantly, the evaluation of Maths Champions gives us yet more evidence of the benefits that providing structured, high-quality professional development to early years staff can bring on young children’s early development.

Read the Maths Champions report here.

- This project was co-funded by the EEF and the Department for Education as part of a funding round seeking Early Years professional development programmes.

- Maths Champions is currently being delivered through four DfE funded Stronger Practice Hubs to some settings in England, and because of the positive results this trial has shown, the EEF are exploring further support for the programme to reach more nurseries, with more information to follow in Autumn term.