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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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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A school shut down? Take learning online with these 4 strategies

A school shut down? Take learning online with these 4 strategies

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to intensify, countries around the world are having to consider impact of containment measures vs disruption to social and economic lives

Australia is currently considering a school shut-down which will severely impact students and families. School principals are having to look at how to support their students during this period

Here are 4 strategies to consider for your school

1. Managed online learning

There are many popular digital learning websites that allow teachers to register students and set assignments for them to complete. Matheletics is a great way to set assignments to all students. Hopefully your school is already using some of these

2. Self learning resources

In contrast to managed online learning, there are many more self learning digital resources that promote lifelong learning mantra. Here the learner is able to explore their interest and define their own curriculum.

Resources such as this could include great learning channels on YouTube (such as Crash course) or Khan Academy (teachers can track progress if assigned as a coach) or even Duolingo which allows you to learn languages for free. This self guided learning really requires students who are motivated with good self management skills

3. Teachers teaching via video conferencing

Intrepid teachers may wish to give video conferencing a go. All you would need is to have a webcam and virtual conferencing platform. Google hangouts is a free platform where you can create calendar event and invite your students or share the hangout link with them. They can then join the hangout and you can teach them whilst even sharing your screen.

There are more sophisticated platforms that will allow you to have chatbox, poll questions and grant annotate access so that students can interact with the learning resources on screen.

Check out our post on Overcoming Top 5 Worries about Online Teaching

4. Online one-to-one tutoring with MathsClub

MathsClub provides schools the option for students to receive one-to-one Maths tutoring at school or at home. Therefore this may be the ideal solution if your school has target students who need to improve in their numeracy and maths skills. Students are able to log on to their secure virtual classroom to receive their one-to-one tutoring as shown below

We have received inquiries about setting up programs ranging from 1 session per week for a student to daily sessions with most in needs students. If you would like to learn more, pleas book a free demo

Leave a comment if you have any other good suggestions/strategies/resources that can help ensure students don’t miss out on valuable learning time.

8 ways to ‘teach for mastery’ in maths

8 ways to ‘teach for mastery’ in maths

For students to achieve ‘mastery’ in maths means that they have a deep and rich understanding of concepts. For example, a student who has mastered multiplication of one digit numbers could easily recall what 7 x 8 is, and could explain to you how this links to repeated addition

Read on for 8 key points of maths mastery, and tips on what you can do to teach for mastery

1. Everyone can improve in maths.

Mastering maths aligns with Growth Mindset theory which advocates that all can make progress if they work hard

What can you do?

Sing this from the rooftops!

2. No child is left behind.

When teaching for mastery, all students work on the same topic together and the class does not move on until all have mastered basic concepts  

What can you do?

  • Group your students such that your more able students can help those who need more support

  • Assess and intervene early if a student is struggling (our 1-to-1 intervention programme comes in handy for this! Sign up for a free demo on our homepage)

3. Maths is taught to give a conceptual understanding, rather than technical

This means no ‘maths tricks’ (at least not until the student has grasped the content).

What can you do?

Avoid teaching maths ‘shortcuts’ such as ‘cancelling’ fractions to simplify

4. Teaching props are welcome!

Teaching for mastery typically involves introducing concepts in ‘concrete’, ‘pictorial’ and then ‘abstract’ form. Students are encouraged to play with physical things, then visualise with diagrams before finally moving to visualising the concept in writing or in their head.

What can you do?

Start off teaching a concept with blocks, counters or other concrete props. Encourage students to play around; physically building, connecting and moving objects

Experiment with teaching using bar model diagrams

5. Depth is more important than breadth

Students explore topics deeply before moving on to the next content in the curriculum sequence.

What can you do?

Try not to panic about covering all of the content. Take your time to support your students with the basics – once they have mastered these they will be better set to face more difficult challenges in maths later in their school life

6. Language is tailored to mastery

Students are encouraged to explain their answer in full sentences. For example, rather than giving a one-word answer of ‘90 degrees’ students would be encouraged to say ‘A right angle measures 90 degrees’. This is so that the student is reminded of the concept once more, the teacher is able to better assess understanding and the rest of the class can benefit from the answer given.

What can you do?

Ask for ‘full sentence answers’ from students

7. Emphasis is put on fluency of concepts

Students should master basic skills such as number bonds, multiplication tables and and inverse operations. Once a student can effortlessly recall basic number facts, they can better process tasks which require deeper thinking. 

What can you do?

Embed routine practice of key number facts until they have been mastered, perhaps by including a section in your starter questions

8. Students explore connections in maths

Maths is a beautiful, interconnected subject. With maths mastery, students are encouraged to actively make links between topics.

What can you do?

Intelligently plan your scheme of work and lessons to include cross topic links (e.g. when teaching measurement and scales, explore fractions and decimals conversions)

Encourage students to use numerical methods they have learnt when covering other topics (e.g. use of column multiplication when calculating area, rather than using a calculator) 

Ready to channel your inner ‘maths master guru’? There’s no time like the present! Let us know how you get on.

10 reflective questions all teachers should be asking

10 reflective questions all teachers should be asking

Reflection is important for all of us. Reflecting helps us become more self-aware as we develop a better understanding of where we’re currently at, where we are going, and how best to get there. 

Providing ample opportunity for self-reflection helps develop learners’ metacognition. Students with good metacognitive skills are able to self-regulate their own learning and thus make better progress. Reflection, however, isn’t an easy skill for all. Many students either struggle to know how to self-reflect, or don’t realise the value in doing so. That’s where you come in!

All good teachers recognise the value in questioning. Here we’ve listed 10 questions which you can ask your students in order to help them reflect. Try asking from the class during your usual plenary section of the lesson, printing on ‘exit tickets’ or encouraging students to ask each other

  • How did you learn best today?

  • What could you have done better? 

  • At what point did you struggle today? What would you do differently the next time you’re faced with a similar problem?

  • Can you apply what you’ve learnt today to other situations? 

  • What are you proud about today? 

  • How did you work with others? How could you improve for next time?

  • What resources did you use to help you find answers? 

  • Could you teach what you have learnt to someone else? Why or why not? 

  • Did anything get in the way of you making progress today?

  • What surprised you about what you learnt today?