Maths Counts aims to support children who struggle with basic mathematics skills at Key Stage 2. It is based on the principles of the Every Child Counts ‘Numbers Count’ programme developed by Edge Hill University. In this project, Maths Count was delivered in 30 minute sessions three times a week as a one-to-one intervention by teaching assistants. Schools had access to an online tool, which stores information about pupil knowledge, supports the planning of lesson objectives, and suggests activities and resources for each lesson. The first ten minutes of each session focused on revision of prior learning, and the next 20 minutes introduced new knowledge and skills. This project is one of a number funded by the EEF to help identify effective approaches to teaching maths.
One-to-one support to improve skills and confidence in maths.
Staff deployment & development
Feedback & monitoring pupil progress
The study found that pupils doing Maths Count made more progress in maths than comparison pupils. However, this finding has moderate to low security because there were some important differences in prior attainment between the Maths Count pupils and the comparison group. In addition, there is some evidence that pupils eligible for free school meals made less progress than comparison pupils, although the security of this finding may be even lower, due to the smaller number of pupils.
The EEF is considering whether to test the project further, as part of its continuing work on improving maths outcomes. More information about using teaching assistants effectively to provide targeted support can be found in this EEF guidance report.
Children who received Maths Counts made the equivalent of two additional months’ progress in general maths, on average, compared to similar pupils that did not receive the intervention. This result has a low to moderate security rating.
Pupils who were eligible for free school meals made two months less progress if they took part in the intervention, compared to similar pupils who did not. This result may have lower security than the overall findings because of the smaller number of pupils.
Maths Counts appeared to be more effective with the youngest (Year 3) pupils and with the lowest attainers in this age group. This result may have lower security than the overall findings because of the smaller number of pupils.
Implementation appeared to be enhanced when Maths Counts had the support of school leaders who provided time and space for the intervention to take place.
The key challenge for implementation was finding sufficient time to plan and deliver the lessons. Staff turnover, staff absence due to illness, and pupil absences were other barriers which led to fewer sessions conducted than planned.
Full project description
Maths Counts aims to raise the attainment of children who struggle with basic mathematics at Key Stage 2. The intervention was developed by The Mead Community Primary School drawing on the principles of the Numbers Count programme developed by Every Child Counts at Edge Hill University. Maths Counts lessons last 30 minutes and take place at least three times a week for a minimum of ten weeks. Schools have access to an online tool that stores information about pupils’ progress, supports the planning of lesson objectives, and suggests activities and resources for each lesson. The first ten minutes of Maths Counts lessons focus on recall and reinforcement of prior learning, and the following 20 minutes introduce new knowledge and skills. The online tool suggests activities and resources to use, such as throwing and catching a soft football in order to count in sequenced steps or using coins to develop an understanding of money.
In this project, schools selected pupils in Years 3 to 6 to participate in the intervention, prioritising pupils at risk of not achieving nationally expected levels, younger pupils, and pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium. The intervention was delivered on a one-to-one basis by teaching assistants. Schools were able to approach the timetabling of the intervention flexibly, so some lessons were scheduled during maths lessons while some took place elsewhere in the school day. Teaching assistants were supported by their schools’ maths leads (the school’s maths co-ordinator or specialist teacher). Support for delivery of the intervention was provided by the Mead Academy Trust project team. Before the intervention started, the project team provided two days of training for both maths leads and teaching assistants. The maths leads then delivered four further training sessions throughout the intervention to the teaching assistants in their school.
After an initial development phase where the project team developed a website and the online tool, Maths Counts was evaluated by Durham University using a randomised controlled trial involving 291 pupils across 35 schools. Each school identified eight eligible pupils, four of whom were randomised to receive the intervention while the other four formed the ‘business as usual’ comparison group. The trial tested the impact of Maths Counts on maths attainment measured using the General Maths component of the CEM InCAS assessment. The implementation and process evaluation consisted of observations and interviews. School recruitment began in early 2016 and the project ended when pupils were tested in April 2017.