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A systematic review of the impact of the Daily Mathematics Lesson in enhancing pupil confidence and competence in early mathematics

What do we want to know?

A key feature of the Government’s National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) introduced in September 1999 was a daily three-part lesson in mathematics (the numeracy hour) in primary schools which placed an emphasis on the use of ‘interactive’ whole class teaching.  Has this helped pupils to develop confidence and competence in early mathematics?

Who wants to know?

Teachers; policy-makers involved in curriculum development.

What did we find?  

  • The key features of the Daily Mathematics Lesson have been well received by teachers and widely implemented.
  • There is some evidence that this has enhanced pupil confidence and competence in early mathematics.
  • The intention that whole class teaching needs to be ‘interactive’ and promote higher quality dialogue, discussion and strategic thinking has not been realised. Indeed, there is some evidence to indicate that the increased use of ‘traditional’ whole class teaching with ‘pace’, is in fact undermining the development of a more reflective and strategic approach to thinking about mathematics, and may be creating problems for lower-attaining pupils.
  • There is evidence that the stricter time management involved may pose particular problems for lower-attaining pupils.
  • The overall enhanced gains in pupil competence may in large measure be a reflection of a closer match between what is being taught and what is being tested, rather than greater gains in pupils’ understanding of mathematics.

What are the implications?

Policy makers need to consider how Daily Mathematics Lessons can be employed more effectively to combat the problematic issues raised. In-service training may help teachers to develop the understanding and skills required to use interactive whole class teaching in the way intended by the NNS.

How did we get these results?

The review synthesised the results of 18 empirical research studies investigating aspects of the numeracy hour in England.

This summary was prepared by the EPPI-Centre

This report should be cited as: Kyriacou C, Goulding M (2004) A systematic review of the impact of the Daily Mathematics Lesson in enhancing pupil confidence and competence in early mathematics. In Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. 

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