A numeracy programme that provides just two 15-minute intensive sessions per week has been found to almost double children's progress over five months. Catch Up Numeracy, to be launched this summer, has been trialled over two years.
It is a programme aimed at children about two years behind their peers, which can be delivered by trained teaching assistants or teachers. Pupils are assessed over three or four weeks on 10 aspects of maths, including the ability to count forward and backwards, and estimation. It is based on the work of Dr Ann Dowker of the department of experimental psychology at Oxford University.
Alan Evans, senior research consultant at Cardiff University, evaluated the scheme by following 49 pupils at 17 primary schools in Ealing, Norfolk and Stockton earlier this year. Some pupils had been taught through Catch Up, while a control group was given other individual support. Tests found that the Catch Up group on average gained 11.6 months in their "number" ages, while the control group gained 6.75 months. Teachers said the project also boosted pupils' confidence.
"We have been woeful as a nation in working with those struggling with numbers," said Mr Evans. "I'm sure the Williams review (into primary maths) will offer something comprehensive and dramatic about teaching maths."
Catch Up Numeracy is expected to become commercially available to schools later this month.