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What works for children with mathematical difficulties? The effectiveness of intervention schemes

Publication date:
Apr 2009
Lead intervention teacher, Local authority staff
Research, Intervention, Progression guidance


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The purpose of this new independent research review is to update the detailed research report by Dr Ann Dowker published by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in June 2004, 'What works for children with mathematical difficulties' (DfES Research Report RR 554). This report examined the status of interventions for children with mathematical difficulties. At that time, there was relatively little work in that area compared, for example, with work on interventions for literacy difficulties (Brooks, 2002). The review reported the evidence concerning the incidence and nature of mathematical difficulties, and the history and current state of interventions for such difficulties.

This new report focuses on the subsequent development and use of intervention materials and programmes within the UK since 2004. It does not discuss the earlier history (for which the reader is referred to the earlier review); nor does it discuss work outside the UK. Following both this research review and the publication of the Primary National Strategy's (PNS) guidance and continuing professional development (CPD) materials 'Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding' (DfES 1168-2005G), there has been some development of mathematics intervention programmes by both local authorities (LAs) and national/independent organisations and further use of and data collection for some of the programmes reviewed in 2004. The aim is to inform schools' and LAs' planning and use of Wave 2 and 3 intervention and support for mathematics by providing an independent research review into programmes currently in use which carry a robust evidence base in terms of measurable impact on children's learning and progress.

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