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A new trial has been announced by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) that will find out if training nursery staff to help build the confidence and maths skills of their colleagues could help to develop early numeracy skills in disadvantaged three and four-year-olds.
The ‘Maths Champions’ initiative will be delivered by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) and will provide senior nursery staff with online training and access to online resources and assessment tools.
Maths Champions will be given the responsibility of monitoring the quality of maths teaching in their nursery and identify opportunities to encourage maths in every day interactions and activities with children.
Chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), Sir Kevan Collins, said: “We know that a good early years education is likely to have a positive effect on a child’s later academic success yet we know very little about the best ways to improve outcomes for three and four-year-olds, especially those from poorer homes.
“Our trial of Maths Champions will provide nursery and pre-school staff with much-needed evidence on how they can do this most effectively.”
The EEF’s Early Years Toolkit provides a summary of education research, which indicates that early numeracy approaches have a positive impact on learning and can improve mathematics outcomes by five months.
The quality of current pre-school provision is able to predict children’s scores on maths and reading assessments at Key Stage 1, maths and science achievements at Key Stage 2 and GCSE results. However some early years staff have limited skills and low confidence when providing maths based activates.
The effects were found to be more pronounced for those with parents who have lower qualifications, highlighting the need for quality early numeracy education at a pre-school level and indicating the lasting impact it can have on children as well as helping to close the attainment gap that is present between rich and poor pupils.
Commenting the new initiative, Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the NDNA said: “We are delighted that the benefits of our Maths Champions programme will be identified and evaluated during this trial.
“We have put the programme through external evaluation before but the Education Endowment Foundation will utilise highly sophisticated tools to give us a more accurate and insightful picture than ever.
“Maths Champions is supported by the Department for Education and is in its third year. In 2014/15, a total of 91 Maths Champions signed up and 469 practitioners were supported with maths, benefiting over 7,000 children – including many who were at risk of falling below expected levels of attainment.
“Feedback from the EEF will help us to take the programme to the next level in achieving best possible outcomes for pre-school children that will stand them in really good stead for their future education."
The NDNA and the EEF are looking to recruit 120 nurseries to take part in the trial. The results of the trial will be published in late 2017 and used to support the EEF’s Early Years Toolkit.