We will deliver our intervention on a ‘best efforts’ basis depending on what government guidelines on Covid are in force. Our fee structure means that schools will not pay for volunteer sessions they do not receive.
If you are interested in becoming a Number Champions school, please have a look at our FAQs below, and then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can discuss or send you more information as appropriate.
We work with children in school Years 2 and 3 since our initial research – and continuing feedback from our partner schools – indicates that there is already a strong need for help in maths at this age. Educationalists also recommend early intervention as being most effective. By specialising in one age group, we can train our volunteers to deliver better support.
We ask teachers to select children who are behind in maths and who they think can benefit from dedicated help.
Our volunteers support children with a wide range of abilities, but they cannot replace the work of a Special Educational Needs professional; we therefore ask schools not to select children needing such professional help.
Exact times depend on the school and on the volunteer, but will be during the school day. Different volunteers may come to the school on different days or times. Schools generally want volunteers to commit to the same time each week.”
Most volunteers will have a limited number of times they could commit to during the week. If schools are able to be flexible on timing, this may make it easier to supply volunteers.
All sessions are in school, although the actual location will depend on the particular school. This might be in the library, the dining room, or perhaps in a corridor area.
The volunteer fetches the child from the classroom at the start of each session and accompanies them back to the classroom afterwards.
We equip our in-school volunteers with a set of ‘props’ including whiteboard, dice, counters, cards, and snakes and ladders Their training and support includes recommendations of internet sites where they can download various printed sheets with number lines and number squares and other resources.
We ask that schools assist where possible by lending our volunteers available teaching materials such as ‘Dienes Rods’ and ‘Numicon’ and toy money.
We agree this with each school, depending on its individual circumstances. A single-form-entry school might want only two volunteers, but for any larger school we would usually aim to start with at least three volunteers. We will introduce the volunteers to each other so that they can share experiences and ideas and cooperate in their approach to the school.
Sessions are usually 25 to 30 minutes, with the school deciding on the exact length.
The volunteer will tailor the sessions to help the child catch up on missing skills, but the sessions will be much more flexible than structured classroom lessons. Sessions typically involve discussions and mathematical games as well as more conventional ‘classroom’ exercises. Often the volunteer will work with concrete objects with the child, to reinforce basic skills.
On the request of the teacher, the in-school volunteer may sometimes work through specific examples or activities relating to current classroom teaching.
There isn’t a typical game!
An example of using a game in place of ‘just doing sums’ would be as follows. The volunteer takes 18 playing cards made up of two suits of one to nine – and then places them face down. The first player turns over a pair of cards. The aim is to find pairs adding to ten. If a pair does add to ten, the player keeps the pair and has another go. If the pair does not add to ten, the player replaces the cards face down – and both players try to remember the cards. Then the second player has a go. The winner is the player with the most pairs at the end.
The game gives the child the opportunity to reinforce ‘number bonds’ for ten, but equally importantly it gives a framework for talking through strategies for counting and adding and subtracting – and for having fun.
We aim to establish good relationships in every school, at a personal level with teachers and staff and also through structured communication with the school management.
We ask that the school provides a single teaching contact, typically the Head of Maths or a member of the Senior Leadership Team. This allows our volunteers to liaise about issues without having to interrupt classroom teachers during the teaching day. We also request a single contact for administration.
Number Champions will also provide a single contact for administration and will assign one of our Mentors to be available to our volunteers and to the school teaching contact.
Our standard agreement lays out clearly the commitments of Number Champions and of the school. In particular, it establishes requirements for safeguarding and data protection. It also defines how our fee is calculated and the mechanism for reducing this if a volunteer is unable to provide the full number of sessions.
We have developed our intervention based on discussions with experienced teachers and educationalists, incorporating ideas from existing literacy schemes which support children learning to read. We have also built on feedback from our volunteers.
At the end of each school year we ask the class teacher of each child we worked with to evaluate the child’s progress over the year compared to the rest of the class. This uses a five point scale from ‘very much better’ to ‘worse’. (So far no child has been evaluated ‘worse’!)
In our first year, teachers rated 60% of the children in the top two categories of ‘very much better’ or ‘noticeably better’.
Our second year was distrupted by the pandemic, so that our volunteers worked with the children only up to March 2020. We were very gratified that the teachers’ evaluations were still highly positive, with 53% of children showing progress in the top two categories:
These results are particularly striking, as the selection criterion for the children is that they have performed less well than their classmates over the previous years.
Our volunteers’ work has thus demonstrated highly positive impact.
However, we want to continue to improve the quality of our intervention and in due course to get external validation of our results.
We have made initial steps towards establishing a partnership with independent academics who can evaluate whether we achieve improved outcomes for the children we work with. A statistically meaningful analysis will require tracking hundreds of children. Our goal is to achieve this by 2025-26.
We have developed our standard agreement with pro-bono lawyers. It lays out what Number Sense and its volunteers will do and what we expect from the school. It covers specific requirements in the areas of safeguarding, data protection, and insurance. It also defines our fee structure in detail, including a rebate to be paid to the school if our volunteers do not deliver a minimum number of sessions with children.
We charge £60 per child for a full year. However, if the school finds a volunteer, we charge only £30 per a child. Thus if a school has 3 volunteers working with a total of 9 children, its annual fee will be between £270 and £540. As above, if a volunteer does less than a minimum number of sessions we will rebate part of the fee.
Our fee is budgeted to cover about 30% of our costs, with the rest coming from sponsors and donations.
An organisation with a strong physical presence requires people on the ground in each area where it operates. This means not just in-school volunteers, but also people to recruit schools and manage the relationships, and people to recruit and to support volunteers.
We founded the charity in 2018 with a two-year pilot scheme in North London. In 2018-19 we had five partner schools, and in 2019-20 we had 13 partner schools in six boroughs. We had planned to expand to 24 schools in 2020-21, but the challenges of the pandemic have held us back to 12.
We are confident that from 2021-22 we can resume our strategy of growing steadily rear by year, both in number of schools and in geographical reach, building a local support structure in each new area.