ScratchMaths

ScratchMaths is a two-year computing and mathematics curriculum designed for pupils aged nine to eleven years old, supported by teacher professional development. The programme uses ‘Scratch’, a free online programming environment, to integrate coding activities into mathematical learning. 

exposure

Maths

Subject

accessibility

Key Stage 2

Key stage

EEF Summary

Since 2014, computing has been part of the primary curriculum. ‘Scratch’ is frequently used by schools, and the EEF funded this trial to test whether the platform could be used to improve pupils’ computational thinking skills, and whether this in turn could have a positive impact on Key Stage 2 maths attainment. Good computational thinking skills mean pupils can use problem solving methods that involve expressing problems and their solutions in ways that a computer could execute – for example, recognising patterns. Previous research has shown that pupils with better computational thinking skills do better in maths.

The study found a positive impact on computational thinking skills at the end of Year 5 – particularly for pupils who have ever been eligible for free school meals. However, there was no evidence of an impact on Key Stage 2 maths attainment when pupils were tested at the end of Year 6.

Many of the schools in the trial did not fully implement ScratchMaths, particularly in Year 6, where teachers expressed concerns about the pressure of Key Stage 2 SATs. But there was no evidence that schools which did implement the programme had better maths results.

Schools may be interested in ScratchMaths as an affordable way to cover aspects of the primary computing curriculum in maths lessons without any adverse effect on core maths outcomes. This trial, however, did not provide evidence that ScratchMaths is an effective way to improve maths outcomes. The EEF has no plans for a future trial of ScratchMaths. 

Research Results

KS2 maths

0
Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

KS2 maths (everFSM)

0
Months' Progress

N/A

Were the schools in the trial similar to my school?

  • There were 110 schools in the trial, located in seven areas across country.
  • 94 of the 110 were Good or Outstanding schools.
  • 33% of the pupils in the intervention schools were ever eligible for free school meals.
  • 24% of the pupils had English as a second language. 

Could I implement this in my school?

  • Scratch is developed by MIT and is available free online.
  • The ScratchMaths curriculum is available through the UCL Institute of Education.
  • In order to complete the curriculum, pupils were required to have access to at least one computer between two pupils.
  • Pupils were expected to be taught ScratchMaths for at least one hour every fortnight. 
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Teachers

Delivered by

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Whole Class

Participant group

date_range

2 Years

Intervention length

How much will it cost?

The average cost of ScratchMaths for one school was around £1,843, or £11 per pupil per year when averaged over 3 years. This does not include staff cover costs for the two days of professional development each participating teacher is required to attend each year. 

£

£11

Cost per pupil

people_outline

2

No. of Teachers/TAs

today

2 Days

Training time per staff member

Evaluation info

Schools

110

Pupils

6232

Key Stage

Key Stage 2

Start date

January 2014

End date

December 2018

Type of trial

Efficacy Trial

Evaluation Conclusions

  1. There is no evidence that ScratchMaths had an impact on pupils’ KS2 maths outcomes. This result has a very high security rating.

  2. Children in ScratchMaths schools made additional progress in computational thinking scores at the end of Year 5, compared to children in the other schools. The additional progress was higher for children who have ever been eligible for free school meals. 

  3. Many schools did not fully implement ScratchMaths, particularly in Year 6. High fidelity to the intervention was found in 44% of schools in Y5 and 24% in Y6. Implementation was enhanced where schools provided teachers with time to work through materials.

  4. Teachers viewed ScratchMaths as a good way of addressing aspects of the primary computing curriculum, good for improving Scratch programming skills, good professional development, and good for its high quality materials. Five teachers voiced concerns that the lower‑attaining pupils needed additional support or adaptation of materials to fully access all ScratchMaths content.

  5. Participation in professional development and the use of materials is potentially a very low-cost per pupil option to enhance non-specialists’ knowledge and skills to teach aspects of the primary computing curriculum in a manner that is suitable for boys and girls.


  1. Updated: 11th February, 2019

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-scratch-maths.pdf

  2. Updated: 13th December, 2018

    Evaluation report

    3 MB pdf - ScratchMaths.pdf

  3. Updated: 8th March, 2017

    Evaluation Protocol

    861 KB pdf - Round_6-_Scratch_maths_amended.pdf

  4. Updated: 8th February, 2016

    Project Protocol

    622 KB pdf - EEF_Project_Protocol_ScratchProgramming.pdf

  5. Updated: 7th November, 2017

    Statistical Analysis Plan

    354 KB pdf - Round_6-_Scratch_programming_SAP.pdf

Full project description

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