Online games trialled in classrooms to boost numeracy

A research trial exploring ways that internet games can help to improve primary pupils’ mental arithmetic has been launched.

The online gaming sessions, led by teaching assistants (TAs), will aim to help Year 3 pupils improve their working memories.

The focus of the trial, delivered by academics at the University of Oxford, is to test whether teaching memory strategies can improve results.

The scheme is one of three teaching assistant-led numeracy projects revealed by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) today.

In a separate trial by Edge Hill University, teaching assistants will be given training and detailed lesson plans to deliver a Post Office-themed small-group intervention to Year 2 pupils. The children will use letters, parcels and house numbers to support their maths skills.

The charity will also deliver a one-to-one TA-led programme that breaks numeracy down into 10 components at a larger scale.

Targeted use of TAs

The three numeracy projects form part of the EEF’s £5 million campaign to help schools make the best use of TAs.

Sir Kevan Collins, the foundation’s chief executive, said: “Teaching assistants play such an important role in our classrooms, especially in supporting disadvantaged pupils. But we know that they are often used in ways that don’t have a positive impact on young people’s attainment.

“The evidence we gain from evaluating these three teaching assistant-led trials will give schools a much clearer picture of how they can use their support staff to improve numeracy.”

The charity has announced a total of 13 new grants for projects that will be tested and evaluated across more than 1,000 English schools.

One of the programmes hopes to offer a potential solution to the teacher shortage crisis by increasing the confidence and skills of young teachers. A trial delivered by Cornwall College aims to help teachers in the first three years of their career understand the impact of disadvantage on schools and students through a three-module course.

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