Effectively embedding maths into the Early Years curriculum to improve overall achievement and student progression

By improving how maths is embedded into the curriculum through collaborative working, can we improve overall achievement? Project by Pippa Elderfield.

About the project

What is the project about?

The Education Skills and Funding Agency (2020) outlines the requirement for 16 to 19 year old learners to continue to study Maths and English until they have achieved a minimum of a grade 4 at GCSE. This is a stipulation of the funding requirements and is necessary for the college to receive the funding for that learner. One of the reasons for maths and English to be included in Further Education curriculums is because of the requirement from employers to have these qualifications. (Coughlan 2013).

In the Early Years sector there is a requirement for all Level 3 practitioners (qualified after 2014) to have a minimum of FS L2 in Maths and English to be included in adult to child ratios, an important part of their job role. This was initially a requirement to have a C grade at GCSE, however, it was changed to FS L2 as the DFE (2017) found that 76.8% of early years settings were struggling to recruit due to the GCSE qualification requirement. (DFE, 2017). 

Within my own cohorts of FE Learners studying Early Years, it is common for learners to have a negative view of Maths and English. Watkin (2016) stated that students who fail after 5 years in school are still likely to fail again. This view is shared amongst learners who will often approach Maths and English by saying “I can’t do Maths” or “I will never pass.” Learners often display a fixed mindset in relation to Maths/English. Dweck (2016) summarises that those with a growth mindset tend to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset. By the time learners get to further education, they have already undertaken 11 years of maths and English education. At times, this can be a lot of negativity to undo.

What information are you going to collect before starting your project to indicate there is a need for this project?

I am going to collect data that includes:

  • students GCSE results from school in Maths
  • Maths enrolments in college for EY students
  • Establish who is teaching maths to EY students
  • How maths is currently being embedded into SOL within EY


What tasks you are going to complete as part of your project?

I will set up a meeting with Maths lecturers to determine their curriculum design and establish a programme outline. I would like to have a clear understanding of the Maths curriculum to ensure I can align our teaching to embed Maths concepts at appropriate points in our curriculum teaching.

I will create resources to be used by other lecturers in the department. This would need to include detailed activity plans so lecturers feel confident in embedding the activities into their lessons. The activities should be relevant to the EY curriculum and not turn the EY lesson into a maths lesson.

I have ordered Maths and English revision books for all students in Caring Professions who are enrolled in Eng/Maths as part of the lost learning fund. The aim is to support all students with extra resources and by offering a universal approach we can ensure inclusivity. This idea came after a conversation that I was part of with some of my students last year.

Additional information – When revising for the upcoming exams, one student had a revision book. The other student was unaware of the revision books and wished she had known sooner. Subsequently, the one with the revision book passed and the one without didn’t. They both had great commitment to their maths studies and excellent attendance. Although we cannot suggest that the revision book definitely ensured the student passed, I wanted to try and give the same opportunity to all students.

If time allowed, I would really like to create a EYHSC department Maths drop in service to support students or groups of students with topics they need support with. Maths needs to be valued as part of their timetable and learning, rather than an add on because they have previously failed.

Who is going to be involved at what stage?

  • Maths lecturers would be required at the beginning to establish a programme outline and to create a cross curriculum working relationship
  • EY lecturers throughout – Myself, Kerry Cunnington and Chloe Greaves – I will create materials for these lecturers to embed into their current SOL to enhance maths in the curriculum

How and in what format are you going to collate your findings?

I will collate feedback from all involved to establish whether the collaborative approach has improved student achievement. By March I would hope to see that students were feeling more confident with some mathematical concepts.

I would hope to see some improvement in overall achievement in comparison to previous years, but this would not be evident until the end of the academic year.

How will the impact of the project be measured?

Impact will be shown through overall achievement at the end of the year. However, I would also hope to measure the impact in terms of student confidence.

What will the outcome be?

I intend for there to be a bank of useful resources that can be used alongside curriculum lessons to effectively embed maths into the curriculum. I would work alongside Maths to align programme outlines and to foster a cross curriculum approach.

Research findings

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