Catch Up Numeracy

The EEF has awarded a £185,000 grant to test the impact of Catch Up Numeracy, an intervention for children struggling to learn arithmetic.

The project will run as a randomised controlled trial in around 50 primary schools.

The Catch Up approach is based on research by Dr Ann Dowker and others indicating that numeracy is not a single ‘big’ skill, but a compound of several ‘little’ skills that seem to be quite discrete. Thus the intervention breaks numeracy into ten components, assesses children’s ability on each, and targets instruction so that the tutor addresses exactly the components that a child struggles with. Specifically, the pupils in the Catch Up intervention receive two short one-to-one sessions every week for up to 30 weeks. The sessions are delivered by specially trained teaching assistants using highly structured lesson plans. The intervention is supplemented by a structured management and quality assurance package that includes accreditation for the teaching assistants.

A recent non-randomised study suggested that children in Catch Up Numeracy make substantially greater progress than similar children who receive ordinary classroom instruction, or the same amount of one-to-one tuition not based on the Catch Up methods. This project will build on the previous research by randomly assigning both teaching assistants and children to experimental groups. This design will allow us to measure accurately the impact of this simple but potentially highly effective intervention.

The NfER will independently evaluate the impact of the approach. The protocol outlining the research design for this project can be found in the download section below.