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Improving mathematics in key stages two and three


The review - commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Nuffield Foundation – analyses the best available international research on teaching maths to children aged 9-14 (Key Stages 2 and 3) to find out what the evidence says about effective maths teaching.

It supports the EEF's guidance on teaching maths, published at the end of last year, which focused on practical "dos" and "don'ts" of great maths teaching.  Improving Maths in Key Stages 2 and 3 has recommendations in eight areas, each designed to support primary and secondary schools to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates.

This report highlights some areas of maths teaching – like feedback, collaborative learning, and calculator use – that are backed up by good evidence, as well as other areas, such as inquiry-based learning and use of homework, where the evidence base is weaker.

Key Findings:

  • High-quality feedback tends to have a large effect on learning; however, feedback should be used sparingly and predominantly reserved for more complex tasks, where it may support learners' perseverance.
  • Collaborative Learning (CL) has a positive effect on attainment and attitude for all students, although the effects are larger at secondary.
  • When integrated into the teaching of mental and other calculation approaches, calculators can be very effective for developing non-calculator computation skills; students become better at arithmetic in general and are likely to self-regulate their use of calculators, consequently making less (but better) use of them.
    • The evidence suggests that primary students should not use calculators every day, but secondary students should have more frequent unrestricted access to calculators.
  • Number lines are a particularly valuable representational tool for teaching number, calculation and multiplicative reasoning across the age range
  • Textbooks can enable teachers to develop students' understanding of, engagement in and motivation for mathematics and this is of more important than the particular choice of textbook.
  • The effect of homework appears to be low at the primary level and stronger at the secondary level, although the evidence base is weak.

The full report and findings can be found here


First published 27 March 2018