Croydon Numeracy Project
Aim: To help improve
the level of numeracy in the Borough
Definition of numeracy for this project
numeracy includes number knowledge
numeracy is to be considered in the broad
sense of mathematical general knowledge
numeracy includes the use of mathematics across the curriculum
Objectives of the project
to help children to use "what is in
their head" to talk about mathematics, with appropriate terminology, thus
enabling the pupil "to speak mathematics"
to improve childrens quick recall of basic number knowledge
to improve childrens quick recall of
basic mathematical facts, skills and knowledge
to emphasise mental and oral work
to improve learning of mathematical facts and methods
to focus on developing the continuity in
mathematics from Yrs 2-3 and from Yrs 6-7
Outline of the Project
The project schools involved children
from Yrs. 2,3,6 and 7
All children had 3 sessions of 10-15 minutes
oral mathematics work per week. Each session had a specific focus relating to
one of the following
the current mathematics topic
previously taught mathematics topic
Therefore all 3 categories were covered in
Children were tested 3 times per year, using
tests with mark schemes devised by the Project Advisory Teacher
Teachers managed the sessions so that
children could work as a whole class or sub
all children were involved in the oral work
Teachers ensured that
good oral questioning was used
children were encouraged to explain how they
obtained their answers
mathematical language was developed and
good follow up work from activities/games
was established to reinforce the concepts
a variety of appropriate strategies were
taught as required
calculator use was to develop number concepts
formative records were kept
Each school involved had tailor-made work but
all schools focused on the objectives.
Accessibility for ESL and SEN children was an
integral part of the project
Structure of the Project
Clusters of schools were stablished in zones
in the borough
Phase 1 Winterbourne
Phase 2 Ashburton Area
The design of each cluster was to, where
possible, have a High School and some of its feeder Primary schools.
Support for the Project
A Project Advisory Teacher worked in each
school. The role was to provide in class support, contribute to workshops and
meet with staff.
Cluster meetings were held. These provided a
forum for the Numeracy Project co-ordinators from each school to share ideas and
good practice and to facilitate dissemination of information.
There was a consultative group that included
the Mathematics Inspector, the Mathematics Advisor, the Project Advisory
Teacher/s, an ESL representative, a SENSS representative and two invited
Teachers representing the participating schools. The role of the group was to
discuss planning, on-going issues, development of new tasks and any other
project related issues.
This was an on-going and developing project;
it was not based on tried and tested methods - we were trying out ideas to see
how they worked! It was not intended to be a formal research project
therefore there was no control cluster of schools. However, within each school
the project was monitored by the LEA Mathematics Inspector and/or the Project
Advisory teacher in addition to the project co-ordinator for the school in order
to ensure consistency of practice and equality of access for all pupils.
Croydon Numeracy Project Schools
Sept 97- July 98
West Thornton Primary
Winterbourne Girls Junior
Norbury Manor Girls High
Bensham Manor (MLD)
Good Shepherd Primary
Thomas Becket RC Primary
Non Cluster Schools
Parish Church Infants St Andrews Cof E High
Other Schools which have been linked with the Project;
Winterbourne Boys Junior, Elmwood Primary and Castle Hill
Outcomes of the Project as described by teachers
Having undertaken various mathematical activities that
emphasised mental mathematics with their children, class teachers and Numeracy
project co-ordinators completed questionnaires that asked them to comment on
their experiences with the work. Where possible teachers were asked to provide
examples of the ways in which they had seen any improvement in childrens
Comments related to the project objectives
To help children "Speak Mathematics"
Children are more confident in using the correct mathematical
term and understand that there is more than one way of expressing the same thing
More children are willing to attempt to explain their
strategies using appropriate language. They realise that knowing the answer is
Children are able to discuss mathematical concepts to a
higher level using the correct language
Children are more specific in their explanations
The confidence in and enjoyment of using mathematical
language seems to improve understanding of and willingness to tackle a problem
The children are focusing on vocabulary and understand what
they hear better
Children like the idea of a "new" word
They explain more logically, they are beginning to think more
This happens a lot more frequently in lessons, detailed
answers are given and much discussion about alternatives ensues
Their vocabulary, including words such as product, mean,
factor, multiple has increased due to the revisiting of these in the variety of
To improve childrens quick recall of Basic Number
There has been an improvement in their immediate recall of
number bonds and tables which enables them to concentrate on the mathematical
concepts involved in the problem
For number bonds they dont use their fingers so much
Improvement seen, by quicker times in "Follow me"
games and quicker responses to questions
They are answering questions quicker and work is more
To improve childrens recall of Mathematical Facts (Skills
A few children have used knowledge of the 4 rules in problem
solving and double check using reverse operations
When doing a topic on the Romans, children talked about tiles
fitting together and shapes
When you revisit a curriculum area, recall of facts seems
There has been some improvement in basic number knowledge,
but I feel more significant improvement relates to use of strategies built on
E.g. 5 x 199 = (5 x 200) - 5
To emphasise mental and oral work
The tests have highlighted some gaps in
Oral work is a very useful tool, this has helped me to assess
With this oral work you are able to notice children who were
hesitating and are now responding faster
You can see instantly areas of weakness and are able to plan
appropriately to overcome these
It has helped identify children who have not understood what
we have been doing in class, and those who have a clear understanding -
therefore work is planned accordingly
Able to build on gaps in knowledge and emphasise work which
Mental and oral work has allowed me to better assess childrens
knowledge - lack of skills and knowledge is often "hidden" in exercise
books when they are working in groups
Mental/Oral work is a very quick and effective way of finding
what they know. You can find out where the gaps exist and address the deficit
To improve learning of mathematical facts and methods
Improved scores in tests
Improvement in SATs results
Children look for quicker ways to calculate now
Children are continually looking for new methods, always
eager to share with others. They look for patterns and use knowledge more easily
They are now able to explain their methods more clearly,
instead of saying "I just knew the answer"
Their explanations are clearer and they are adopting a wide
variety of methods to solve the mental calculations
Comments related to other significant features
of the project
Improvement in Childrens Listening Skills
Good listening skills are required for some of the games and
the children have realised how important it is to listen
Children have needed to sustain concentration and improve
their speaking and listening particularly for the "Follow me" games
Some children are now obviously listening to the full
question e.g. "Draw a square with a triangle inside it"
Children do not ask so often what it means
Increased enthusiasm and confidence now, because they are
Children are more prepared for listening and respond more
successfully to questions
More children are drawn into the activity and concentration
They are able to comprehend language used in different
They do not wish to be heard answering questions incorrectly
hence an improved focus on what is being said, is developing throughout
Improved listening skills are seen in children by their
greater attentiveness and improved behaviour
Yr. 2 children are asking to have questions repeated for
clarification - whereas previously they would not have bothered or would not
answer or would make a wild guess
Influence on Scheme of Work and Planning
Mental mathematics is now on daily planning, all staff have
copies of activities. We used an INSET day to devise materials
The approach of using mental mathematics in all stages of our
planning has been found to be very useful
Above all, the children have seen a fun side to learning
maths through games
We will be including an extended range of vocabulary at the
next revision of the Scheme of Work
Mental maths has become an integral part of our teaching and
planning throughout the school
Mathematics Language is more specifically detailed
It is intended to ensure that the rest of KS3 children are
covered by the project
I feel the whole school has benefited considerably and the
strategies encouraged by the project are well embedded in teaching in the school
Numeracy units are being written into topic units in order to
create relevant numeracy skills within areas of the curriculum
It made us focus at all stages on improving numeracy
The project has made the whole school rethink how it should
plan its maths and the emphasis has moved towards more mental and oral
Co-ordinator observed mental maths sessions, looked at
results, discussed with year group
Mental maths was timetabled to ensure it happened
Mental maths was included in our curriculum planning
Looking at test results and analysing has been a useful
Co-ordinator has been given release throughout the year to
observe mental maths activities and look at weekly plans etc.
Feedback to staff meetings
The first test showed gaps in childrens understanding of
mathematical language. These were addressed in teaching sessions. Both
subsequent tests showed improvement as has their work in the classroom
The sharing of games and activities with people from other
schools and then being able to offer these ideas to colleagues has enriched our
Scheme of Work.
I feel that I have learnt as much as the children in this
numeracy project. It has greatly influenced my teaching of Maths. I have found
the activities to be fun and they have helped me see Maths in a different way as
Have come away with many ideas to try out and for staff
development and training
Teachers have been keen to receive fresh ideas to support
their maths teaching
The cluster group meetings have also been enjoyable and
worthwhile with the sharing of resources/ideas being a key factor in their value
Children really enjoy these sessions and are extremely
Children are quicker to stop chatting
They feel a lot more confident expressing relationships
between numbers and describing numbers
Children are more flexible in their thinking
Children are better at holding concepts in their heads
Children are less anxious when formally tested
Different methods of solving numerical problems has been a
big teaching point
It has been important to raise the childrens level of
confidence; many felt threatened by oral questions and froze, even when they
were perfectly capable of answering. I have noticed a greater willingness by
children to take risks
Good preparation for implementation of Numeracy/Maths hour
"I have got better at working out sums in my head"
( said by a pupil and a teacher)
We were easily able to adapt the games for the SEN and EAL
children and also to extend the more able
More able children have particularly enjoyed creating games
Less able children have generally enjoyed the activities and
it has been possible to see their progress with the recording in games.
overall outcomes of the project can be summarised in the
following teacher response.
"The whole project provided a stimulating approach to
Numeracy improvement for both the staff and the pupils. Fresh ideas and a bit of
fun have helped to build confidence, especially for the weaker pupils. We will
continue to use and develop the materials and monitor their effect."
Testing the children
Children were tested on 3 occasions within the academic year.
September this formed a baseline assessment
February a mid academic year assessment
June an end of year assessment
It was recognised that the transfer from Year 2 to 3 and Year
6 to 7 was a significant change for children. Therefore, to have a more accurate
representation of the childs performance it was desirable for the June test
result to transfer with the child and become their baseline assessment for the
new academic year, which also avoided any unnecessary re-testing. However, this
was not a viable proposition, within the constraints of this project, for
children transferring from Year 6 to 7. Thus in Year 3 only, teachers were given
the option of not testing in September and using the Year 2 June test result as
the baseline assessment for children in Year 3. New entrant children obviously
had to complete a test in September.
Details of the Tests
The tests were administered orally
Each test had 3 sections
The total for each section was recorded on the childs
answer script so that teachers could have a detailed view of the childs
Optional Test Papers were introduced for the February and
June tests, to be completed in addition to the Standard Test Papers. This was to
provide questions to stretch the most able children. The guidance given to
teachers for identifying which children should sit the Optional Test Papers was:
the most able "handful of children" or
children who dropped only 2 or 3 marks in the standard test
that all children completed.
Mark schemes were provided for all test papers to try to
standardise the allocation of marks. However teachers were encouraged to use
their professional judgement, where appropriate, but ensure there was
standardisation of marking within their school.
In order to test the fulfilment of the objective "quick
" time restrictions were introduced into the tests. There
is a range of time allowed between questions, and again teachers professional
judgement was expected. Recommendations were to allow 3 to 5 seconds for
questions requiring instant recall and 15 to 25 seconds for more complex
questions. Teachers discussed the strategies needed to deal with the time
constraints with the children e.g.
listen to the question more carefully so you understand
what is being asked on its first reading
learn the mathematical facts required so that you can
perform mental calculations more efficiently
Following the completion of the tests and before children
received any feedback on their achievement there was an option for children to
complete a self-assessment pro-forma. This was to encourage children to reflect
on what they had found easy/difficult in the test and to identify specific
targets for themselves. This, as a method for raising childrens motivation
and involving them in taking charge of their learning, is backed by research
carried out by Dylan Williams and Paul Black, Kings College.
It should be noted that the Standard Test for each year group
was to be completed by all children in that year group. Therefore teachers
needed to explain the implications of this to some children.
Samples of the Standard Test Papers
NUMERACY PROJECT MATHS TEST
YEAR 2 FEBRUARY TEST
This test is to be administered orally, without the use of apparatus.
Each question should be read twice before going on to the next question.
Allow a reasonable amount of time after the second reading has finished
before starting to read the next question; probably 15 to 25 seconds.
1. What is two more than 5 ?
2. What is 7 take away 7 ?
3. What is half of 6 ?
4. Add 6 and 3 and 5 ?
5. Write down the number 81 ?
6. 10 add 6 equals ?
7. 30 subtract 5 is ?
8. How many tens are there in 34 ?
9. What is the next number 198, 199, 200 ?
10. Hold up the beaker diagram and write the words Less, Half and More on the
board. How much water is in the beaker, Less than half full, Half full or
More than Half full?
11. Draw a square then draw a circle on the left side of the square.
12. Hold up a clock face showing 9 oclock. What time does the clock show ?
13. You need 50p to buy stickers, how many 10p coins do I need to give you?
14. If a strip of paper measuring 6cm long and another strip measuring 11cm
long are stuck together, how long are the two strips together ?
15. What would you measure the length of your finger in centimetres, metres,
or kilogrammes ?
Pupil Self-assessment to be completed before any feedback of
results or answers is given to children
The only information provided by the class teachers was the
raw data i.e. childrens test results by section. This data was entered into
the spreadsheet and all calculations (totals, percentages and targets) were
built into the program. In addition the programs design automatically
generated the "Progress comments" for each child.
The percentages calculated in the class summaries, at the bottom of the
spreadsheet, were based upon those children who completed the relevant tests.
The aims of the spreadsheet were
to be a labour saving mechanism for teachers
to highlight childrens progress in detail
to provide a tool to identify the specific needs of a child or groups of
to assist in the setting of targets for individual children
to facilitate the monitoring of childrens progress and achievement
through testing, re-testing
Pip Huyton, using Microsoft Excel 97, designed the
Using the spreadsheet Teachers/Co-ordinators can
identify an individual childs strengths and weaknesses
in the 3 different sections of the test
monitor an individuals progress in each section
obtain a target for the June test based on the childs
performance in the earlier tests
select a child or group of children whose test result
and/or progress comment indicates the need for intervention strategies such as
extension work, reinforcement or additional support
monitor the general performance of the class using the
Percentage of Higher and Lower Achievers
help to ensure consistency of curriculum delivery
use the Charts as visual representations of childrens
performance that can be discussed with relevant stakeholders i.e. parents,
Teachers who used the spreadsheet commented
Very useful for class teachers to focus on areas of
Graph made easy reading
Valuable evidence to assess progress in different areas
Children liked the target setting as they were keen to
improve their scores
Very useful in monitoring success of the teaching strategy
Where children have not improved the difference in their
scores is generally small and teachers have attributed the decline to absence
from school or poor test technique
Possible further development of the spreadsheet
Add SAT Teacher Assessment or Baseline Assessment from the
previous Key Stage to give an additional indicator of progress and/or
Include the childs gender and ethnicity to monitor
performance of specific groups
Test Result Analysis Summary
Between September and June an average of 69% of children
participating in the project improved their test scores.
For the children that made an improvement in test scores
between September and June the average improvement was 20%.
The average percentage of children achieving their target
score in June was 40%
Since there was not a control group it is not possible to
quantify the difference that the Numeracy Project has made to childrens
achievement. However, class teachers suggest that it has made a notable
contribution towards the significant general trend of improvement in childrens
test scores between September and June
All averages are mean averages.
The pupils participating in the project came from a variety
of schools with widely differing intake profiles.
Croydon Numeracy Project booklet is dedicated to Ann Hibbert
(Croydon Mathematics Inspector 1986-1997)
A copy of the Booklet can be
obtained from Ann Longfield. If
you require further information about the project contact Rosemary or Pip