First Class Numeracy Intervention

Is there a numeracy intervention that works for pupils struggling with maths?

Teaching assistants can improve literacy and numeracy skills when they are deployed well and given the resources to support learning that are based on tried and tested research.

One low-cost numeracy resource worth knowing about is 1stClass@Number, a 10-week ‘light-touch’ intervention, delivered by teaching assistants, that provides intensive support for pupils struggling with maths. This is an Every Child Counts programme developed by Edge Hill University and its implementation has received government support.

It is intended for children with moderate difficulties in maths and “aims to help them to make faster progress and catch up with their peers.”

Over 55,000 pupils in Years 1 to 11 have been supported by 1stClass@Number in 4,000 schools and its results have been impressive:

  • They made an average Number Age gain of 13 months in only 4 months – over 3 times the expected progress.
  • 93% of them showed more confidence and interestin learning mathematics in class after 1stClass@Number.

The 1stClass@Number intervention is a ready-made programme containing detailed session guidance and extensive resources. The idea is that children continue to take part in their normal maths lessons and attend up to 30 half-hour sessions for 10 -15 weeks. Teaching assistants are given training in order for them to run the programme.

The lessons focus on number and calculation, developing children’s mathematical understanding, communication and reasoning skills.  Stimulating, enjoyable games and activities engage the children and build their confidence. Each topic starts with a simple assessment that helps the teaching assistant to tailor sessions to the children’s needs.

The Education Endowment Foundation has published an evaluation of this programme.

Professor Terezinha Nunes et al (2018) conducted a randomised controlled trial in 133 schools in south and west Yorkshire. Their results showed that the intervention had a positive effect on Quantitative Reasoning Tests (effect size = +0.18) compared to pupils in the control group.

They found:

  • Pupils who received 1stClass@Number made two months’ additional progress in maths, on average, compared to pupils in the control group.  This result has a high security rating. (p 5)
  • Pupils with the lowest prior attainment made seven extra months of progress in comparison to an equivalent subgroup in the control group.  The result suggests that 1stClass@Number might be an intervention most appropriate for pupils with greater difficulty. (p 53)

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