What EEF’s latest research on our KS1 attainment data means to us

Blog: Helen Drury, Founder

What EEF’s latest research on our KS1 attainment data means to us

Posted: 27/11/19

Helen Drury, Founder of Mathematics Mastery, reflects on the significance of the results of a trial, published by EEF’s Education Data Service, 25 November 2019, to improve our understanding of the impact of Mathematics Mastery on key stage 1 (4 – 7-year-old) students.  

We’re a bit obsessed with evidence at Mathematics Mastery. We want to be sure that teachers love our training and that they learn and develop. We want to be sure that what they learn changes what they do in classrooms, so they teach even more brilliant lessons. Most of all though, we want to be absolutely sure that pupils in Mathematics Mastery partner schools love and understand mathematics.

At Mathematics Mastery, we pay unusually close attention to the impact of our programmes in every school we work with. We regularly visit every single one of our partner schools to see first-hand the impact we’re having, and to support them with further improvements.

Why? In order to achieve our vision of every child enjoying and succeeding in mathematics, regardless of their background. We’re constantly improving our programme based on what we learn from research and from the classroom.

Attitudes to maths

For us to achieve our vision, it’s essential that pupils enjoy and feel confident in maths lessons. On our visits to schools, the excitement around maths learning is palpable. Many pupils tell us maths is their favourite subject. Teachers tell us that children are much more confident accessing reasoning and problem-solving activities, that they are thriving in maths and really enjoying their lessons.

We’re part-way through a longitudinal study using pupil questionnaires to compare pupils’ attitudes to learning maths before and after their school adopted Mathematics Mastery. It will be a few years yet before we have final results to share, but early indications look promising.

Increased attainment

We know from extensive research that building strong foundations in the early years and key stage 1 pays huge dividends in results in key stage 2 SATs, at GCSE and beyond.

The Mathematics Mastery partnership is at an exciting time as the first cohorts of students reach the end of key stage 2 or GCSE having been in a partner school from the start of Year 1 or year 7. We’re confident that the attainment improvements found in earlier trials, also run by EEF, will grow over time – the more years that students study with us, the greater the impact.

What our partners say

In the meantime, our partner schools are delighted with the difference they see the programme making to attainment. Heads tell us that the impact of the programme across school since its implementation has been substantial. They report an improvement of the overall quality of teaching and learning.

Ark Castledown Primary Academy, which is among the top one per cent of most improved schools in England in 2019, saw its proportion of KS1 students reaching expected standard in maths at the end of Year 2 climb from 77.4% to 86% in its first two years on the Mathematics Mastery programme.

Lorraine Clarke, Executive Principal of Castledown Primary School, said, “Our school is on an exciting journey and Mathematics Mastery has played a big part in it. It is giving our pupils strong foundations in maths and the confidence that the programme imparts echoes through their attainment, as well as how much they enjoy their maths lessons.”

But where’s the hard evidence that these attainment successes are really due to our programmes?

Our love for hard evidence is why we were excited to see the Education Endowment Foundation offering to fund FFT evaluations of impact. And we were keen to see how they tackled this tricky problem.

The Education Data Service carefully matched every school on the Mathematics Mastery programme with a ‘matched control’ school. For example, if the Mathematics Mastery school had low prior attainment, an improving trend for maths before joining the programme, and a high proportion of pupils from deprived areas, they matched it with a school that shared all these features. Some features make a school more likely to see good results. Some features make a school less likely to see good results. Either way, the researchers matched as closely as possible.

They found that the Mathematics Mastery programme did increase the chances of pupils meeting and exceeding national expectations:

“We found positive effects on both outcomes in both outcome years. The effect on achieving the expected level of progress, while positive, were not large enough to be equivalent to any additional months of progress in either outcome year. However, at the higher level, the effect was equivalent to two months of additional progress in 2017 and one month in 2018.”

The percentage of pupils reaching national expectations was 76% in Mathematics Mastery partner schools compared with 73% in the matched control schools. Across the 200+ schools, 21% of pupils achieved ‘greater depth’, compared with 18% in the matched comparison schools.

So we can be pretty confident that the schools we work with are right. Implementing Mathematics Mastery is transforming pupil outcomes. This supports evidence from previous trials and our own analysis of results at key stage 2, 3 and at GCSE. It’s great to see the impact picture building, piece by piece, to give a clearer picture of how the teachers in our partner schools are making a difference to the pupils they teach.

It is our mission to see every single learner love and succeed in mathematics. We won’t rest until we see that achieved. We’re really grateful to the Education Data Service for their support with measuring our progress so far in meeting this goal.

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