Maths Through Picture Books is a 10-week targeted intervention that aims to improve numeracy skills and confidence through focused conversations around picture books. Teaching Assistants (TAs) deliver two 20-minute sessions per week with groups of five children in Reception identified as not having a secure understanding of number and operating with numbers. Sessions involve shared reading of carefully selected maths-focused picture books, supported by semi-structured prompts for the TA.
Expert practitioners from East London Research School (ELRS) will train one TA and one teacher per school. Training involves one initial day of face-to-face training and is supplemented by one live webinar (to join live or watch the recording) and one drop-in session for participating staff to support delivery and maintain motivation and fidelity to the programme. There is a face-to-face session at the end of delivery for participant reflection. The TA and teacher are expected to have weekly planning meetings to ensure fidelity to the programme and consistency between the targeted sessions and wider classroom practice. Teachers observe the TA delivering the programme three times at intervals throughout delivery, followed by reflection discussions.
Schools are eligible if they are located in Essex, Havering, Newham or Redbridge and not taking part in another EEF maths programme.
Schools can register their interest to take part in this project below, or go directly to ELRS’s website to find out more and sign up: Maths Through Picture Books Pilot | East London Research School.
Maths Through Picture Books aims to help children who are falling behind develop a secure understanding of number before they move to KS1. There is a small but growing body of evidence to support the use of storybooks to teach mathematics in the early years, most of it involving the specific use of talk. The EEF’s Early Years and Key Stage 1 Mathematics Evidence Review identified this as a promising approach, with six studies providing a large positive aggregate effect.
ELRS delivered Maths Through Picture Books to 10 schools as part of an EEF development cycle and gathered feedback from participating teachers and TAs to inform and improve future programme delivery. Participants reported enjoying the programme and were highly appreciative of the professional development programme.
Maths Through Picture Books will be evaluated by a team from Oxford MeasurEd. This will be a pilot evaluation, meaning the evaluation will answer questions on the feasibility of implementation, evidence of promise of the theory of change, and readiness of the programme to trial. This will be done through interviews, surveys and observations of programme delivery, including a pupil focus group. The evaluation will also pilot an outcome measure, the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Third UK Edition (WIAT-III), to assess the feasibility and acceptability to schools of its use and gather key statistical information to inform the design of a future trial.
The evaluation report will be published in Summer 2025.
Primary schools in the following Local Authorities can register their interest in taking part in this research project: Essex, Havering, Newham, Redbridge. Schools will be accepted on a first come first served basis. Please register your interest by the 8th December 2023, you will be asked to return a signed Memorandum of Understanding by 15 December.