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New module improves skills and confidence in Early Years practitioners’ maths teaching in England

EdDevTrust’s Early Years Professional Development Programme has already helped over 380 Early Years practitioners to successfully develop their practice and help young children to learn key language and communication skills. In addition to the main programme, 130 practitioners have now completed the Early Years Mathematics Module to further their skills and confidence in introducing mathematics to their settings.

Our Early Years Professional Development Programme (EYPDP), delivered in partnership with Elkan and funded by the Department for Education, was launched in September 2019 with the purpose of delivering high quality, evidence-based and fully funded continuous professional development training to Early Years practitioners in England.

The two-year programme is an investment into the training of Early Years practitioners who work with young children (between the ages of two and four) from disadvantaged backgrounds, thereby improving the quality of early years education. We have been working with over 50 Local Authorities in England on this programme, and to date, over 380 Champions have completed their Level 3 accreditation in Language and Literacy for two-to-four-year-olds.

The Early Years Mathematics Module is offered as an additional module for Early Years practitioners on the programme with the aim of improving their knowledge, skills and confidence in planning and implementing more opportunities for introducing mathematics in their settings on an everyday day basis. The materials were written by early mathematics experts Dr Sue Gifford and Dr Catherine Gripton and align with the Early Years Foundation Stage Overarching Principles. The module was also reviewed by Dr Julian Grenier, a renowned authority in the Early Years sector, prior to release.

The module uses short reading texts, video observations and interactive activities, and a full glossary of terms to support learning across six specific subject areas: counting, cardinality, measurement, shape, space and pattern. 

The module is delivered wholly online and structured in small, bite-sized sections so that Early Years practitioners can progress through the learning at their own pace and at a time that suits them best. The activities included in the module are designed to enable them to check their own progress and identify both areas of strength and areas in which they may need additional support. So far, 130 practitioners have dedicated extra time to complete this module to further improve their skills, which constitutes six additional hours of materials to the main Early Years Professional Development Programme.

Introducing mathematics skills to young children not only supports them in more formal mathematics learning in school but is also a vital skill for everyday life. Mathematics is often an area of Early Years learning which practitioners may not be as confident in delivering and have doubts about their skills, which is why the module focuses on upskilling practitioners in this area. One practitioner said: "I used to be quite fearful of planning for maths as this was, in my view, my weak point, but I now enjoy planning and engaging in maths with the children.”

On completion of the module, 97% of practitioners rated the module to be “good” or “very good”. One of the practitioners who completed the module explained: "Each week, I included some of the suggested activities in my planning after reading the Key Ideas section in the training."

Practitioners were also asked about their understanding of teaching mathematics before the module, where 59% considered themselves “strong” or “very strong” in their understanding. After completing the module, this increased to  95% of participants. Confidence in planning and delivering mathematics, which is important in allowing practitioners to ultilise their new skills, also increased from 63% to 94%, providing a promising indication that practitioners will put the new skills gained on this module into practice in their settings.

Participants gave feedback on the most valuable aspects of the module for them, which included mathematics terminology, examples of practice, new ideas for activities, and print and video resources. One participant said: "I found it informative - plenty of specific mathematics vocabulary, what that means, the importance of those skills, and lots of practical ideas to use in practice."

91% of participants found the module contained the right balance of activities and 92% agreed that the module was well structured and appropriate to their learning needs. When practitioners were asked if the module should be made available to everyone working in Early Years, 95% said yes. A participant also shared changes in practice stemming from this module: “We have now implemented Maths into all areas of our nursery, this has been really beneficial in our baking and cooking area for introducing weighing and measuring."

In light of England’s national lockdown in early 2021, the EYPDP training schedule was postponed, but Champions were still able to access the module during this time. The EYPDP training will re-commence in mid-April, with a new cohort of over 1400 practitioners joining the programme in September 2021, where the Early Years Mathematics Module will be offered. The module will also become publicly available upon the end of EYPDP under Crown Copyright as part of a suite of resources for Early Years practitioners.  

 

Please get in touch with the team on info@earlyyearspdp.com if you would like more information or have questions about the programme.