Primary leads way to rapid recovery

AN inner-London primary is pioneering a home-grown numeracy recovery programme modelled on the established scheme for underperforming readers.

Pupils at Thomas Fairchild in Shoreditch, east London, will be getting daily 30-minute one-to-one sessions with a teacher, focusing on number work.

Eight Year 2 pupils took part in a pilot scheme last year, but then the school ran out of money to continue. All got level 2B in national maths tests at the age of seven. Now a local charity has stepped in to allow the programme to continue.

Headteacher Alasdair Friend said some of the children had made dramatic improvements over a relatively short time. Each did at least eight weeks of extra lessons.

"It seems to work more quickly with numeracy than Reading Recovery. The children's confidence increases at a much faster rate," he said.

He concedes the sample group is small and the evidence so far is anecdotal. If the numeracy recovery work starting this month proves successful, it may be rolled out to other local schools and beyond.

The aim is to target youngsters who are "falling off the bottom of the scale" in their number work, over a two-year period. More than 60 per cent of the school's 310 pupils have English as an additional language and receive free meals.

"There are issues around the achievement of children in this part of inner London," said Mr Friend. "I believe that it just takes a bit of very targeted, very specific and inevitably very expensive work to have a dramatic effect on a child's future chances."

Shoreditch Our Way, a government-funded regeneration charity, is providing pound;1 million over three years for a full-time numeracy recovery teacher as well as teachers to run Reading Recovery in seven local primaries.

Reading Recovery is an intensive, individualised programme of support for the lowest achieving six-year-olds, also involving daily 30-minute one-to-one sessions with trained teachers.

Sally Prentice, SOW's partnerships manager, said: "Reading Recovery has a strong research and methodology behind it. We want to see if we can develop a similar programme for maths."

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