Education Endowment Foundation:Improving Numeracy and Literacy in Key Stage 1

Improving Numeracy and Literacy in Key Stage 1

University of Oxford
Implementation costThe cost estimates in the Toolkits are based on the average cost of delivering the intervention.
Evidence strengthThis rating provides an overall estimate of the robustness of the evidence, to help support professional decision-making in schools.
Impact (months)The impact measure shows the number of additional months of progress made, on average, by children and young people who received the intervention, compared to similar children and young people who did not.
Project info

Independent Evaluator

NFER logo

Improving pupils’ numeracy and literacy through two programmes: Mathematical Reasoning’ and Literacy and Morphemes’

Pupils: 2217 Schools: 55 Grant: £489,471
Key Stage: 1 Duration: 2 year(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed February 2014

This page covers the first (efficacy) trial of the Mathematics and Reasoning programme, which tested whether it could work in schools under best possible conditions. To read about the second (effectiveness) trial – testing a scalable model under everyday conditions in a large number of schools – click here.

The Mathematical Reasoning programme aims to improve mathematical attainment by developing pupils’ understanding of the logical principles underlying mathematics. The Literacy and Morphemes programme aims to improve pupils’ spelling and reading comprehension. Both programmes are delivered to year 2 pupils during normal lesson time

Previous studies suggested both programmes offered affordable approaches to improving pupil outcomes. Based on this, the EEF funded a trial (Improving Literacy and Numeracy in KS1) to test the impact of the two programmes under developer-led conditions. Pupils receiving Mathematical Reasoning made an additional three months’ progress in maths compared to other pupils in comparison schools. There was no evidence that Literacy and Morphemes improved spelling or reading outcomes.

The EEF then funded a follow-up evaluation which examined the impact of a scalable version of Mathematical Reasoning in a larger number of schools and with less involvement from the original developer (co-funded by the Worshipful Company of Actuaries). The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) helped to develop the training model, and coordinated its delivery through its national network of Maths Hubs’ (partnerships of schools focused on maths education). In this second, larger trial, pupils who received Mathematical Reasoning made the equivalent of one additional month’s progress in maths, on average, compared to other children.

There are some differences between the two projects which may explain the smaller impact in the second trial. First, it used a different delivery model. Rather than doing the teaching training directly, the programme developers (the University of Oxford) trained Maths Hub teachers who then delivered the teacher training to participating schools. This may have affected how faithfully the programme was delivered in the classroom. Also, although a precise comparison is difficult, there was evidence that the comparison schools in the second trial were more likely than in the first trial to provide alternative support for children’s reasoning in maths. This may have reduced the difference seen between Mathematical Reasoning pupils and other pupils.

Together, these trials provide evidence for the effectiveness of Mathematical Reasoning. The project will remain on the EEF’s Promising Projects list and we will explore the potential for bringing it to more schools.

  1. This evaluation provided evidence that the Mathematics and Reasoning programme had a positive impact on pupils’ numeracy ability equating to three additional months’ progress.
  2. There was no evidence to suggest that the Literacy and Morphemes programme had an impact on pupils’ literacy ability overall.
  3. There was an association between greater use of the accompanying computer games and greater impact in the numeracy intervention, suggesting the computer games were important to successful implementation.
  4. All teachers were able to implement the programmes, but most agreed there was too much content to deliver in one hour per week and so made various adaptations to their delivery of the programme. In future trials of the programmes, teachers should be permitted to use and integrate the materials in their own way, as they would in a normal teaching situation.
  5. A future trial could evaluate the programmes at scale in more than one location. When drawing up plans for bringing the programmes to scale, the Oxford team should consider whether training and ongoing technical support could be delivered remotely, rather than in person.
ImpactThe size of the difference between pupils in this trial and other pupils
SecurityHow confident are we in this result?
Mathematics and Reasoning Intervention
Months' progress
Mathematics and Reasoning Intervention (FSM)
Months' progress
Literacy and Morphemes Intervention
Months' progress
Literacy and Morphemes Intervention (FSM)
Months' progress