Closing the numeracy attainment gap

The Fair Education Alliance - which represents over 75 leading business, education and voluntary organisations - today sets out the practical steps that schools and government can take to improve maths results among children from the least privileged backgrounds.

The FEA’s numeracy group, co-chaired by Achievement for All and KPMG, has identified what makes some schools serving poorer communities successful in improving outcomes in maths. It lists the policies that should be adopted more widely in order to improve the chances of children from the poorest backgrounds and so dramatically improve social mobility in England.

The group’s report follows the latest PISA results which highlighted a very large numeracy gap between the highest and lowest performing students in England - equivalent to about 8 years of schooling and one of the biggest across OECD countries. This achievement gap begins long before they start primary school and only widens throughout their education.

The FEA is calling for the adoption of a number of policies to drive progress in closing the numeracy attainment gap. 

A national maths professional development programme (subject knowledge and pedagogy) for early years settings which includes better support for practitioners in assessing and supporting children’s progress in maths.
Data recording – the FEA's numeracy working group proposes that the current Ofsted inspection framework is changed so it looks for greater evidence of how well settings are supporting children’s early maths development.
Parental engagement - evidence shows the centrality of parent engagement for better outcomes in children’s short and long term learning and development. All early years settings and primary schools should have focused approaches to developing this further.
Transition - continuity in approaches to maths support children’s understanding and further development. There needs to be 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 builds teacher and practitioner skills and confidence in teaching maths. They become confident in performance and attitude. This is further developed through action research in schools and early years settings or teacher/practitioner individual projects.

You can read the full report here