Help for maths strugglers revamped to cut costs

10th June 2011 at 01:00

A maths programme which aims to help children with the greatest difficulties with the subject has been revamped to slash the training costs incurred by schools.

An official evaluation of the Numbers Count scheme by researchers at Durham and York universities found that daily 30 minute lessons with a trained teacher for 12 weeks could help children make considerable progress. But it also said it was relatively expensive and found heads had doubts about its long-term viability once government funding which met half the schools' costs had ended.

The cost of training a member of staff to deliver the initiative will now be more than halved from #163;4,500 to #163;2,000, according to academics behind the scheme.

Nick Dowrick, head of Every Child Counts at Edge Hill University, said that the lessons of the official evaluation had been used to develop the new offer. It will also cost schools #163;750 a year for ongoing training costs for existing staff members.

The original Numbers Count programme was part of a wider Every Child Counts programme introduced by the then education secretary Ed Balls, alongside the Every Child a Reader programme.

Funding to schools for the Every Child schemes has been continued, although the ringfencing has been removed. But without support for the central costs, there were concerns that the programme would fold.

Changes include being able to deliver the programme for three days a week over a longer period rather than five sessions over a term and greater flexibility about teaching in groups - children could sometimes work in pairs or threes or sometimes one-to-one.

Mr Dowrick said: "Heads will always want to know what they get for their money. They want hardnosed information about how well it works and we will provide that for them."

It is hoped that the changes to the programme will make it self-financing within three years. The team behind it are currently in negotiations with the Department for Education about transitional support.

Mr Dowrick said: "We analyse the data carefully to provide national reports and reports for each school on how they are doing.

"That is one thing that we are asking the DfE to support."

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