Closing the Attainment Gap in Maths - Report Launch


Rachel Hopcroft CBE, Head of Corporate Affairs, KPMG UK

Dr Catherine Knowles, CEO Researcher and Report Author, Achievement for All


Panel Chair:

Sir Richard Lambert, Chair, Fair Education Alliance



Melanie Richards, Vice-Chair, KPMG UK

Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive, National Numeracy

Professor Sonia Blandford, Founder and CEO, Achievement for All


Bruno Reddy, Mr Reddy Maths


Event Summary:

Rachel Hopcroft CBE opened proceedings and welcomed guests to KPMG. Rachel provided an overview of KPMG’s commitment to helping improve numeracy levels as a key enabler of social mobility, highlighting statistics included in the Government’s Industrial Strategy showing the marked difference in maths attainment levels between the least and most disadvantaged students.

Rachel emphasised the increasing importance of basic skills development in a post-Brexit UK, and commended the report for its positive contribution to sharing best practice in educational settings successfully closing the maths gap.

Catherine Knowles introduced the report, emphasising the importance of children, teachers, practitioners, parents and carers developing a ‘can do’ attitude to maths. Catherine outlined the key recommendations put forward:

·         A national maths professional development programme (subject knowledge and pedagogy) for early years settings


·         Data recording - changes to the current Ofsted inspection framework to look for greater evidence of how well settings are supporting children’s early maths development.


·         Parental engagement - all early years settings and primary schools to develop a focused approaches to involving parents in their child’s maths learning.


·         Transition - a focus on continuity in approach and practice from early years to primary school and primary to secondary school and beyond


·         Action research/individual research projects - focused teacher/practitioner CPD building teacher and practitioner skills and confidence in teaching maths.


Sir Richard Lambert commended the report and expressed the hope that the case studies would inspire other primary teachers and early years practitioners to develop a whole approach to maths to help close the maths gap. The panel introduced themselves, their interest in numeracy and responded to audience questions centred around the question: "Will England ever have world-class maths education that works for the most disadvantaged?” Key discussion points were as follows:

·         Norm referencing - the current assessment method used for GCSEs where the comparison is against the performance of others – was discussed as a barrier to building a numerate workforce

·         The UK is performing at a reasonable level at higher-level maths, but extremely poorly at basic numeracy for all

·         The panel were in support of any move to ensure that all students should be required to continue some form of maths study until 18

·         The bundling together of literacy and numeracy was noted as potentially problematic given the differences between the two basic skills in terms of immediacy, abstraction, learning requirements etc.


The report and launch event received a high level of engagement on social media. On Twitter, the hashtag #mathsgap was used nearly 300 times and garnered almost 700,000 impressions. A selection of tweets about the report can be found below:

-          New @_TheFEA report on closing the #mathsgap. Great to see a focus on CPD, action research and, most importantly, keeping maths fun! - @_dolezalova

-          We're at the launch of the @_TheFEA #mathsgap report. Great to hear about importance of growth mindset and importance of holistic approach. - @ReachOutUK

-          Numeracy report from @_TheFEA showcases best practice in closing the #mathsgap in early years and primary settings  - @MathsAPPG

-          Love the pre teaching concept highlighted in this report's case studies. And positive attitudes can change lives! - @misshustwick

-          Bit of bedtime reading...Great launch @kpmguk this evening for the research by @_TheFEA and @AfA_Education #mathsgap - @JadeFahie