I tested Child A using the Sandwell 1 test. The test showed that she could count small groups of objects accurately, but that her understanding of numeracy was significantly delayed in most areas. She was assessed with a number age of 5, making her exactly a year behind age-related expectations. Examples of specific areas identified for improvement were: language (e.g. terms such as more, less and opposite were imprecisely understood), addition and subtraction strategies (e.g. Child A liked using numberlines but often used them inefficiently) and using and interpreting charts or diagrams.
When I met with Child A’s mother to explain the course, she was extremely keen to be involved and suggested coming in every day to share our lessons. I was obliged to explain that this would take up more of her time than the school felt it reasonable to ask for. In the end, Child As mother attended 2 Numbers Count lessons and was very positive about the experience. She also contacted me several times in a less formal way to get my help with using her computer to access games for her children. The homework I sent back with her came back promptly and showed some parental help but not too much – there were still some errors for Child A and I to discuss and Child A insisted that, when working at home, she preferred to solve the problems independently.
Child A became enthusiastic about Numbers Count and enjoyed the activities greatly. She was initially quite uncertain, but the freedom offered within Numbers Count to make errors and explore problems appealed to her talkative and inquisitive nature. After about 20 lessons of teaching, her attitude had really changed. She spoke often about how much she enjoyed our sessions. When I went into her class to collect other children, she would always look up hopefully, anticipating her turn. Her mathematical ability improved too. She began to find ways to describe mathematical problems independently and would talk them through excitedly with my sock puppet, correcting his mistakes and explaining how to tackle calculations. Child A made clear progress on the target areas described above. She learned to verbalise her knowledge using mathematical vocabulary. She can now explain to other children how to use numberlines and hundred squares to add and subtract accurately. She also understands bar charts, can use them to record and interpret simple data and was able to take a bar chart back to class as a celebration of part of our work together. Amongst other areas in which she showed noticeable progress, I was particularly struck that she now counts confidently in 2s, 5s and 10s and can relate this to written number sequences and times tables. She has the foundation in place for the increasing importance of multiplication and division as she goes through year 2.
CHILD A’s class teacher described really noticeable improvements in her numeracy. During a lesson I observed during the exit phase, I noticed Child A chose to work without adult help or a partner. She had been focused and attentive during the teacher’s input and had been using her small whiteboard during this time to respond appropriately to questioning. Her understanding of the lesson content was not complete, but she was able to solve most of the problems independently. I believe that Numbers Count was crucial to developing that independence, particularly since Child As parents were really engaged with the course.
ECC teacher, St Bartholomew’s Primary School, Brighton