Maths Champions

This project will test the impact of training Maths Champions within nurseries: senior staff who are responsible for the quality of maths learning in their setting, and for building the confidence and skills of the practitioners working with children. At present, many early years practitioners have low levels of confidence and skills in maths; often there is an emphasis on ‘counting on’ and rote learning, at the expense of how to use numbers, relations of size and simple functions.

In this programme, the Maths Champions and practitioners within each setting are given online training, access to resources and assessment tools to build their confidence and skills and help them identify opportunities for building maths into the everyday interactions that they have with children. The programme will be delivered by National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), a charity supporting 6,000 day nurseries. A research team from the Department of Education at Oxford University will support NDNA in refining the programme prior to trial.. 

Why are we funding it?

High quality early years education can have long lasting effects that may help to narrow the gap. Children’s early maths ability is correlated with attainment in maths and other subjects in later life. However, it is also an area that many early years settings struggle with, and the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is particularly large in early maths development. NDNA has delivered a two-year pilot of the Maths Champions approach, showing over 90% of practitioners completing the programme improved their confidence and skills. There is now a good case to evaluate the approach as part of a larger study to assess the impact on children’s learning.

How are we evaluating it?

A team from York Trials Unit and Durham University has been appointed to manage the evaluation. The evaluation will be structured as a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) involving 120 nurseries: 60 will be allocated to receive the Maths Champions programme for children, and 60 nurseries will be allocated to the control group. Children will be assessed before and after the intervention, and their outcomes will be followed up in primary school.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in autumn 2017.