Early years maths programme boosts child development by three months

A National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) professional development programme has been shown to boost young children’s maths skills and language development by three months.

The Maths Champions training programme, which aims to increase practitioners’ skills, knowledge, awareness and confidence in supporting early mathematics, has been evaluated by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

The EEF, alongside a team from the Universities of York and Durham, found that children made on average three months’ additional progress in maths and language development compared to children who had not taken part in the programme.

There was also some evidence to suggest that children from disadvantaged backgrounds made on average up to six months’ additional progress in maths and language development.

The additional progress was made within the evaluation period of seven to eight months, making a difference to children’s outcomes that could stay with them throughout their school-aged education.

Maths Champions received EEF’s lowest rating for cost, with researchers reporting the programme costs £7 per child per year.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said: “Research shows that children’s mathematical learning in early years makes a difference to the whole of their lives. The findings that this programme leads to three month’s additional progress for children in less than a year, is a significant impact for a child aged three or four. “

Nurseries participating in the programme nominate a Maths Champion and a Deputy Maths Champion who support, inspire and motivate staff within their setting. A nine-step programme is accessible across 12 months including one-to-one support sessions from NDNA, bespoke online training courses, coaching, an observational assessment tool and play-based activities.

Professor Becky Francis, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said:  “Today’s findings are hugely significant, giving early years educators a much needed, proven, cost-effective programme to consider when looking to make changes to their early numeracy provision.”   

A total of 134 early years settings took part in the trial which included over 1,300 children.  The study ran from October 2021 to June 2022 in private, voluntary, independent and school-based nursery settings.

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