The National Day Nurseries Association’s Maths Champions programme builds the knowledge of nursery practitioners to support children’s early mathematical development. It is an online, one-year programme delivered to both Private, Voluntary or Independent (PVI) and school-based nursery (SN) settings.
In each setting, a ‘Maths Champion’ is selected: a senior member of staff, who is supported to drive improvement in maths practice across the setting. The Maths Champion is supported to audit current practice and create and implement an action plan for supporting colleagues to improve maths practice throughout the year. The support includes online CPD, including e‑modules on early mathematical development, resources, and one-to-one advice.
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.
Research suggests that high-quality early numeracy education in the early years can have long-lasting effects which may help close the gap in achievement throughout life. This project was co-funded by the EEF and the Department for Education as part of our Early Years professional development funding round, in which maths CPD was identified as a priority, as an area in which less evidence has been generated to date.
Maths Champions has been tested through a previous EEF trial. This found a positive impact on maths attainment, with children in settings who received Maths Champions making the equivalent of +2 months’ additional progress in maths, on average, compared to children in the comparison group. The security of the evaluation was weakened by the fact some pupils were not included in the final analysis because they were not tested when the intervention ended. This trial re-tests Maths Champions in a larger number of settings, including school-based nurseries, and put in place measures to increase the security of the evaluation.
This RCT effectiveness trial evaluation found that children in settings receiving the Maths Champions programme made an average of 3 additional months’ progress in maths compared to children in settings that did not receive the programme. These results have a very high security rating (5 padlocks, the maximum on the EEF scale).
There were also promising indicative results for pupils receiving EYPP: these pupils made on average an addition 6 month’s progress, compared to children in control settings. This finding should be taken with caution as it was based on a smaller sample, however is a very positive indication that the programme could be more effective for disadvantaged children. The evaluation found evidence that the programme improved practitioners’ confidence in teaching children maths and delivering maths activities to children, thought to be a key mechanism of impact. Furthermore, the evaluation also found a positive impact on language outcomes for children attending settings who received the programme.
The impact of the MC programme on children’s longer-term maths and language attainment (end of Reception, July 2023) will be collected via the EYFSP and reported in a subsequent report addendum. The results of this trial provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of the Maths Champions programme. The EEF is currently supporting more settings to access this programme through the Accelerator Fund.
- Children in nurseries allocated to the intervention group made, on average, the equivalent of three months’ additional progress in maths attainment compared to children in control nurseries. This result has a very high security rating.
- Children in nurseries allocated to the intervention group made, on average, the equivalent of three months’ additional progress in language attainment compared to children in control nurseries.
- Children eligible for Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) in the intervention nurseries made, on average, the equivalent of six months’ additional progress in maths attainment compared to children eligible for EYPP in control nurseries. These results, while promising, should be treated with more caution than the analysis on all pupils as fewer children were included in this analysis.
- The results from the implementation and process evaluation support the majority of the components of the logic model, specifically the training and support, the MC and DMC roles, and the action plans, suggesting these should be maintained in the future.
- The implementation and process evaluation found that the commitment of the MC and DMC is crucial to successful implementation and that the roles can be interpreted flexibly depending on the needs of the nursery and the choice of nominated MC and DMC.