This project and its evaluation were affected by the 2020 and 2021 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The evaluation protocol is being updated and will be published here as soon as possible.
This project primarily aims to develop the ability of Reception and Year 1 teachers to enhance children’s mathematical understanding. Staff will be coached in how to deliver and tailor their mathematics curriculum across Reception and Year 1 in ways that both enhance children’s maths development, as well as simultaneously address children’s other individual needs. Teachers will receive training that:
- Helps staff use evidence-based tools to assess the quality of their learning environment, chiefly for mathematics;
- Enhances their understanding of effective pedagogy for young children, particularly for teaching mathematics;
- Heightens their understanding of child development, particularly how children develop mathematical understanding but also children’s personal social and emotional development (PSED) and self-regulatory abilities;
- Discusses the impact of disadvantage on child development and possible implications for teaching, and,
- Highlights the role of the early home learning environment and offers approaches for how best to support parents.
Reception and Year 1 teachers will receive training together, enabling collaboration on their approach to mathematics teaching, with the aim of delivering a smoother transition for children between teaching phases. Teachers will be encouraged to use their professional judgement to interpret and tailor suggested approaches to meet the needs of the children in their school and classes.
The CPD has been developed by world-renowned experts in early learning and development, from the University of Oxford (Professor Iram Siraj, Dr Denise Kingston and Professor Edward Melhuish), and incorporates three supportive elements:
- Face-to-face training workshops of 2 initial full days followed by afternoon sessions that occur at fortnightly intervals during the first year of the project;
- An online learning platform accessible throughout the project, including the materials used at training, suggested resources and ways of using them, examples of approaches to engage parents and a discussion forum.
- Bespoke coaching and mentoring occurring regularly throughout the latter part of the project, at least at 3 points for half a day, tailored to suit the needs of the school with at least one further face-to-face group workshop.
The team delivering the project had success with the approach in 90 centres in Australia with children aged 4 – 5 as part of the FEEL Study. Pupils in classes where teachers received the CPD were found to make greater progress in mathematical understanding and socio-emotional development compared to pupils in the control group. There were also significant improvements in the quality of mathematics teaching and the interactions between pupils and staff. The EEF trial will provide a robust test of the programme in an English context, investigate if a greater focus on mathematics in the CPD programme can further impact numeracy development and start to fill a research gap on effective ways of supporting children and staff during the transition between the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.
More broadly, early numeracy approaches have been consistently found to be effective in supporting young learners to master the basics of mathematics, with an average impact of an additional six months’ progress (EEF Early Years Toolkit)
The programme will be evaluated by a team from York Trials Unit, based at the University of York and University of Durham, using a randomised control trial. This will be an efficacy trial, meaning that the programme will be tested under ideal conditions. It will measure the impact of the CPD programme after two years of implementation on two cohorts of children and their teachers. The evaluation will look at mathematical understanding and self-regulatory development at the end of Year 1 (i.e. the cohort who, at the start of the project, are beginning Reception) and the Reception year (i.e. the cohort who start reception during the second year of the trial). The impact of the CPD on staff confidence to teach maths will also be assessed.
The evaluation will include an implementation and process evaluation, which will analyse how the programme is implemented across different schools, the barriers and facilitators to implementation and if there are any changesto parental engagement.
The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2025