8 Maths Intervention Mistakes (and how to avoid making them)

8 Maths Intervention Mistakes (and how to avoid making them)

Structured intervention, when done right, accelerates learning, reduces students’ ‘maths anxiety’ and aids schools in effective resourcing. Often, however, maths intervention fails due to poor implementation.

You might be thinking; ‘We’ve tried intervention but… our school is under-resourced/we don’t have enough planning time/students don’t engage’… 

We hear you. However, with appropriate planning and a growth mindset (it’s not just our students who need this!), we believe that any school can provide effective intervention which might just work ‘learning miracles’. 

So, what do the experts say works, and how can your school make intervention a success? 

Last year, Evidence for Learning published their guide ‘Improving mathematics in upper primary and lower secondary, in which using structured intervention was a key recommendation. 

Here are eight common mistakes to avoid to ensure intervention is successful, according to the research. 

Mistake #1

‘Test cramming’ at the year or school end

When intervention is reactive, rather than used as a preventative measure of further regression, the support given can often just attempt to ‘patch the cracks’ rather than address the root of students’ struggles.

Interventions are often prioritised towards the end of primary school, or in preparation for state/national exams. Whilst this can prove effective for those in need of an ‘extra boost’, learners with more prominent learning gaps struggle to catch up in time. 

Solution: Facilitate early, well planned intervention

MathsClub tips:
  • Factor in personalised learning planning for students as early as possible
  • Plan intervention as part of your regular school timetabling; targeting students to enrol can follow later

Mistake #2

Targeting students is slow, and not data driven

Whilst formal exams can be insightful for targeting students in need of extra support, waiting until results day can delay much needed action. Similarly, not using any data to inform planning can mean that students most in need do not receive the support required to progress.

Solution: Guide selection via formative and summative student assessment

MathsClub tips: 
  • Conduct informal class tests regularly to assess students’ progression in maths
  • Use data to target students with domain learning gaps, or to identify disadvantaged students who may benefit from individualised attention

Mistake #3

Instruction is not aligned with evidence-based practice

The Institute of Educational Science’s Practice Guide cites strong evidence that intervention is most effective when instruction involves: 

  • Step-by-step modelling of problem-solving strategies
  • ‘Think alouds’ to develop students’ reasoning skills
  • Amble opportunity for guided and scaffolded practice, to help students master concepts
  • Cumulative review, to aid knowledge and skills retention

Solution: Systematic and explicit teaching

MathsClub tips:
  • Factor in personalised learning planning for students as early as possible
  • Plan intervention as part of your regular school timetabling; targeting students to enrol can follow later

Mistake #4

Implementation is poorly managed

No matter how well designed an intervention program is, if the implementation is poor, you will not see the results you hope for. We all know how often schools are under-resourced, which can mean that structured intervention doesn’t take priority. Assigning the planning or leading of intervention to already overburdened or untrained staff can be a recipe for failure.

Solution: Plan according to the resources available

MathsClub tips: 
  • If teachers or teaching assistants are delivering intervention, invest in their training and development
  • Consider a third party provider to minimise school-side planning. Ensure that such involves trained subject specialist instructors, and is easy to set up and run

Mistake #5

Interventions are misaligned to in-class teaching

Intervention is best when students are supported to see the value in it, and how it reflects what they learn in their regular classes. Schemes of learning should supplement content covered in the curriculum, and so effective communication between intervention and class instructors is imperative. 

Solution: Ensure programs are aligned with classroom instruction, and that students are aware of this

MathsClub tips:
  • For internal intervention, set up regular touch points & facilitate collaborative planning between instructors

  • Opt for third party interventions which provide regular progress evaluation reports, ideally demonstrating evaluation of mindset and metacognition development as well as academic progress

Mistake #6

Student engagement is not prioritised

Hands up if you’ve heard a student cry ‘But why do I have to do this?’…? 

This one is a no-brainer – if students are not motivated to learn, barriers to progress increase exponentially. The learning content, and pedagogical delivery of such, should consider students’ affective learning domain. This may manifest in the form of praise and reward systems, incorporating positive statements of affirmation and/or facilitating learning games.

Solution: Ensure students are properly motivated to take part, and succeed in, interventions

MathsClub tips: 
  • Factor in ‘maths mindset progress’ when evaluating providers of intervention

  • ‘Hype up’ students to take part, supporting them to become excited about intervention provision

Mistake #7

Students are removed from subjects they enjoy 

Removing students from their beloved art or gym class, or scheduling boosters during lunch or after school may further increase maths anxiety or resentment towards the program

Solution: Schedule intervention within allocated subject learning time

MathsClub tips:
  • Schedule intervention during some of students’ maths class time, allowing the class teacher to further personalise learning to a smaller class group

Mistake #8

Interventions are planned without a set timeframe 

In the planning stage, if evaluation check-points are not scheduled to analyse progress, students can remain in intervention for longer than needed, sometimes resulting in ‘intervention fatigue’. Evaluations should include communication with students and instructors or intervention managers in order to evaluate progress holistically. 

Solution: Plan interventions with an endpoint, but be prepared to adjust that based on student progress

MathsClub tips:
  • Book intervention reviews in your school calendar, and establish evaluation criteria from the start: What will student success look like? How will you know if targets have been met?

  • Once students gain confidence and fill learning gaps, consider rotating students in and out of the program in order to maximise impact

With the right support, at the right time, every student can become ‘switched on’ to maths. When planned strategically and resourcefully, in line with what the evidence says actually works, structured intervention is a sure fire way to best support your students most in need of targeted attention in maths.

MathsClub provides personalised, 1-to-1 online Maths intervention programs for primary schools. With individual tutors for each student, regular holistic progress reporting and dedicated support, MathsClub makes intervention simple. 

Book a demo to learn how we can support your school…

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What you need to know about the Australian Curriculum Review in 3 minutes

What you need to know about the Australian Curriculum Review in 3 minutes

ACARA have released their draft Mathematics Curriculum revision. With 6 strands, 144 content descriptors and 672 elaborations across F-6, there’s a lot to get stuck in to during the window for public review.  

We’ve simplified the changes into key takeaways, digestible in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea. 

Recap: Why is the review happening? 

  • The Australian Curriculum is subject to a review every 6 years
  • In June 2020, Australia’s Education Ministers agreed to commence the review, aiming to raise standards and better support teachers

What are the proposed changes?

  •  ACARA outline the aim of this review as ‘refining, realigning and decluttering the content’ to focus on ‘essential kowledge and skills’

Here’s how the prospective curriculum looks…

Content Structure and Key Themes

6 content strands 
Number, Algebra, Measurement, Space, Statistics, and Probability
13 Core Concepts

… categorised under 3 Core Concept Organisers; Mathematical structures; Mathematical approaches; and Mathematising, illustrated in ACARA’s content mapping visualisation below.  

*ACARA Consultation Curriculum – All Elements F-10

9 Key Considerations

… with the aim of developing students’ mathematical proficiency;

  • Understanding 
  • Fluency
  • Reasoning
  • Problem solving
  • Experimentation
  • Investigation
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Computational thinking
  • Computation, algorithms and the use of digital tools in mathematics
What’s different?
  • The three original content strands (Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry & Statistics and Probability) have been split into six
  • No sub-strands appear within the revised strands
  • All 6 strands are covered at each year levelFor example, probability is introduced via chance games at Foundation level
  • The former proficiency strands (Understanding, Fluency, Problem Solving and Reasoning) have been removed as key ideas. The core concepts aim to integrate the proficiency strands into the curriculum content itself.

Content Scope and Sequence

See the content breakdown (F-6) here, along with comparative information here.

What’s different?


1. More detailed descriptors and elaborations
  • Content descriptors are more comprehensive and use more technical language
2.  Emphasis on problem solving and inquiry based learning
  • Understanding and use of mathematical processes is a key theme running through content at all year levels
3. Real world context focus
  • Investigation is heavily focused towards real world contexts, rather than pure and abstract mathematical problem solving, particularly in the Space strand
4. Explicit cross curricular links
  • Cross curricular links, mainly Sustainability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, are explicitly embedded into descriptors
  • For example, in Year 3 – Number, ‘exploring hunting circles used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to catch prey to investigate and represent different models of unit fractions based on different numbers of hunters between 1 and 5’ (AC9M3N04_E6)
5. Realigning and redistributing content
  • Some content has been brought forward, or pushed later;
    • Percentages is introduced in Year 5, rather than Year 6
    • Understanding ‘one half’ is covered in Year 2, rather than Year 1
    • Multiplication facts are not taught until Year 4. Foundations are introduced in the form of recognising patterns, eg. through skip counting, earlier in school
  • Some content is redistributed across strands
    • Money & Finance does not have a dedicated sub-strand, but rather connections to financial literacy are made in the main strands
  • Some content is removed altogether;
    • ‘Non-essential’ content, such as Triangular Numbers (previously Year 6)
    • Repetition across subjects, ‘Naming the seasons’ (removed from Year 2, covered in Year 1 science)

What’s the response been like so far?

The proposed changes have provoked conflicting viewpoints on how and why mathematics should be taught to our learners. 

Some field experts argue that the proposed ACARA curriculum is not decluttered, as was one of the main aims of the review, but is in fact the opposite.

In an open letter to ACARA, signed by over 140 professors, researchers, teachers and parents so far, several concerns are raised. These include the criticism that by prioritising real world context problem solving, the proposed curriculum ‘pointedly omits references to solving problems stemming from mathematics itself’, devaluing mathematics as a fascinating subject which should be appreciated in it’s own right. Furthermore, the letter challenges that the delaying and methodology of teaching of key topics such as multiplication facts hinders maths mastery, arguing further that emphasis on problem solving is only effective if students securely lay down mathematical foundations to develop fluency.

Others contend that the revised curriculum actually raises expected standards for students. Visiting the six content strands across year groups, it’s argued, helps students gradually progress in their understanding and knowledge of mathematics as a whole.

What’s next? 

 The curriculum is open for public consultation until July 8th 2021. You can review the curriculum changes here, and submit your thoughts via the survey. 

The final context changes are expected to be completed by September, in advance of the new Australian Curriculum going live early 2022.  

For reference:

* © Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2021 to present, unless otherwise indicated. This material was downloaded from the Australian Curriculum website (accessed 28th May 2021). It has not been modified. This material is consultation material only and has not been endorsed by Australia’s nine education ministers.

You are encouraged to check the Australian Curriculum website to ascertain whether this draft material has since been endorsed as Australian Curriculum material.

ACARA does not endorse any product that uses the Australian Curriculum Review consultation material or make any representations as to the quality of such products. Any product that uses this material should not be taken to be affiliated with ACARA or have the sponsorship or approval of ACARA.

Is MathsClub right for your school?

Is MathsClub right for your school?

Getting intervention right can be a challenge. Trust us, we know.

Balancing budgets, resourcing teachers, maintaining staff morale, managing remote and in-school learning, teaching composite classes, exam pressures, the list goes on…

Maths intervention can be tricky to nail, and with the recent surge in online program offerings in particular, it can be a challenge to identify which are even worth your consideration.

Every school is unique, as are its students, and you want to be sure that your individual needs will be met when making any investment in student learning. A program may look and sound great, but how can you be sure it’s right for your school?

Below is our super quick guide to help you understand how implementing MathsClub works. Along with this, download our School Self Assessment Guide to help you decide if MathsClub is the right fit for you.

School Self Assessment Guide 

Implementing MathsClub: How It Works

1. Assess

  • Identify the problems you are trying to solve
  • Explore support options (book a free consultation)
  • Check school technology set up (all students need are devices and the internet!)

2. Implement

  • Schedule sessions to fit around your school time table 
  • Target students and select Learning Plans
  • Establish positive learning routines 
  • Utilise MathsClub support available

3. Evaluate

  • Speak to students about their learning
  • Review regular & summative progress updates 
  • Consider rotating students termly to maximise impact

Still unsure, or have more questions? Our team would love to offer a no-commitment, free consultation. 


Talk it out with our team. Book a demo now…


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Maths intervention proven to accelerate progress by 5 months

Maths intervention proven to accelerate progress by 5 months

One to one tuition offers a proven solution to the problem of how to help students catch up that have fallen behind in their maths learning. Historically this has been a high cost program for schools but this is no longer the case.

Evidence For Learning (E4L) states that one to one tuition involves a teacher, teaching assistant or other adult giving a student intensive individual support. E4L’s Toolkit states there is extensive evidence that indicates this intervention strategy can yield 5+ months of added progress for students. The evidence is particularly strong for primary school learners as well as students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Why don’t more schools use one to one tuition?

Until recently, one to one tuition has required busy teachers to work additional hours outside of normal teaching. Another option is for schools to hire dedicated personnel, either as Teaching / Education Assistants or Learning Support Officers, which can be expensive and difficult depending on where the school is located. In addition to staffing, schools must also consider the logistics of where & when tuition takes place and how such timetabling may impact general teaching. 

Rural Y5 student receiving one to one tuition from MathsClub

Does group tuition have the same impact?

One strategy that mitigates the above challenges is to run small group tuition instead. While this may reduce costs and disruption, it also can reduce engagement and impact. The E4L Toolkit states the small group tuition results in less impact and has limited evidence when compared to one to one tuition. 

In order to address students’ maths anxiety, a student’s social and emotional needs must be provided for as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This is where one to one tuition has the ability to nurture the student’s growth mindset and therefore deliver superior outcomes. That said, it is possible to build a similar safe environment within a small group setting though it requires a skilled educator with strong EQ. 

How can you make one to one tuition effective?

Very simply, identify the students who need extra support and put them on an intensive program where they receive 2-3 sessions of individual teaching per week. The tuition should be linked to normal teaching and class teachers ideally should be aware of progress and encourage students to make links between intervention and normal lessons. Where students do make connections, teachers should celebrate and praise students to reinforce positive attitudes towards the student’s personal progress.

“MathsClub stood out because of the fact that is was 1-to-1 tutoring and it was within our budget”

Paul Harper-Green

Principal, Wyandra State School, QLD

Why is MathsClub’s one to one tuition so effective?

MathsClub provides highly trained specialist maths tutors to work with your students via a safe and secure environment. Students love working with their very own tutors in our online classroom. There’s no camera which means no judgement for them. Instead, students and tutors work together while continually discussing and explaining the learning taking place.

This experience ensures students feel safe and confident to stretch their learning and make mistakes along the way. By working online, MathsClub reduces disruption for schools as students can have their sessions at the same time.

Our affordable pricing has allowed schools to book several regular sessions per week which students do at school or at home if required to. If you would like to learn more about how we can support your school, please book a demo with our team using the form below.

Schedule a demo with our team to learn more…

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Where are your students on the Mindset Scale?

Where are your students on the Mindset Scale?

Do you know which mindset your students have? 

Growth Mindset

Research has shown that students who learn to develop a growth mindset make better progress in mathematics and engage more with their learning.

Fixed Mindset

Students with a fixed mindset struggle to overcome challenges as they may avoid taking risks or lack resilience to persevere through struggles.

Use the Mindset Survey to;

  • Identify students who may be in more need of support
  • Start a class discussion around having a Growth Mindset
  • Share tips to ‘train your brain’ for maths learning

Find out students' mindsets

  1. Simply copy, paste and send the URL or load on students’ computers.
  2. Take note of the score given and reference it against the scale below.
  3. Use the results to help students improve mindsets towards maths!

Reference Scale

MathsClub helps to students build confidence in maths and develop a Growth Mindset. Find out more about how it works here