One-to-one maths help for pupils

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A groundbreaking programme for children who struggle with basic maths could save the taxpayer millions of pounds and break the historic link between deprivation and low-attainment, according to research into pilots of the Every Child Counts scheme.

The results show that 2,621 of the lowest achieving six-and-seven-year-olds, many from poor backgrounds, made almost 14 months progress on average after just 20 hours specialist one-to-one or small-group tuition - four times the normal rate of progress.

None of the children in the pilot were predicted to reach expected levels for maths when they started the Numbers Counts lessons – but research on the impact by Edge Hill University, which runs the programme, found that nearly three-quarters were up to speed by the time they were seven.

As a result of the pilot, the scheme is being expanding this year to 12,000 Year 2 pupils, with an additional 460 teachers trained on top of the 207 existing staff. The scheme will go nationwide in September 2010 with 30,000 of the lowest achievers being taught annually.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said: “It’s time to break the cycle of poor numeracy skills being passed on from generation to generation. Too many parents have bad memories of maths classes which rub off on their own children. It is wrong that it has become socially acceptable to admit being poor at maths, when no one has the same attitude about reading and writing. The lowest-achieving children need the support of their parents, as well as their teachers, so they can get back on track – that’s why it is great that this scheme is actively involving families.

“Maths standards in primary schools have risen over time but this shows that intense bursts of one-to-one or small group tuition can help those children most at risk of falling behind. We are rolling out Every Child Counts out nationally from September 2010 so the lowest achieving pupils can have access to specialist teaching when and where they need it.”

The scheme, which will involve daily, 30-minute intensive sessions, will be run by the Every Child A Chance Trust, a partnership of the government, charitable foundations, the business sector and universities.

Jean Gross, its director, said the programme "has had an amazing impact on children and on schools".

She added: "It shows what can be achieved when business, charities and government work together. We look forward to seeing the scheme continue to grow, so that one day every child who needs help with numeracy can get it."