1stClass@Number is a small-group intervention delivered by teaching assistants (TAs) and is intended to support pupils struggling with numeracy in Year 2. It consists of 30 half-hour lessons, normally delivered 3 times a week for 10 weeks in addition to normal mathematics instruction. This means that pupils involved in the intervention spend approximately 15 additional hours on numeracy. Sessions focus on key aspects of number, including number sense, place value and calculation, which are in line with national curriculum requirements and can cause particular difficulties for children at this age.

TAs work from detailed lesson plans, which they can adapt according to information gained from formative assessments. They help children to think and talk about their mathematics, and develop metacognitive skills. The intervention has a Post Office theme: children use letters, parcels, and house numbers to support their mathematics and write postcards to tell their class teachers about their achievements.The programme will be delivered by the Every Child Counts (ECC) team from Edge Hill University.

Why are we funding it?

1stClass@Number is similar to another Every Child Counts programme, Numbers Count, which has been independently evaluated using a randomised controlled trial (RCT). This study found that Numbers Count had an impact of 0.33 standard deviations on attainment. 1stClass@Number is delivered by teaching assistants, and so could provide a more cost-effective approach. 1stClass@Number embodies the principles of effective TA-led intervention identified in the EEF’s Making the Best Use of Teaching Assistants guidance report. The EEF is funding this project as part of its campaign to support effective use of TAs, so delivery would be concentrated in schools in West and South Yorkshire.

How are we evaluating it?

The programme will be evaluated by a team from Oxford University. The evaluation will be structured as a randomised controlled trial, which will compare the progress of pupils who receive the intervention to a “business-as-usual” control group. 130 schools will be recruited to the trial with half receiving the intervention from September 2016.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in autumn 2017.