Peer mentoring effective at boosting numeracy skills

by Lucy Anderson, Programme and Partnerships Officer at Franklin Scholars

We know that the transition from primary to secondary education is a crucial time in the education journey and the success of this transition is a strong predictor of future success. Unfortunately, approximately 37% of pupils in the UK make no progress or regress in Maths in Year 7 (Barmby, 2017). However, we also know that peer mentoring is a reliable way to build skills and raise Maths attainment, for both the mentor and mentee. At Franklin Scholars, our older cohort of students (typically in Year 10) support a younger student (typically in Year 7) over the course of an academic year. They deliver weekly sessions, involving group activities, 1:1 numeracy tutoring and 1:1 coaching. Through this they develop a sense of purpose, self-worth and responsibility, whilst developing their own numeracy skills.

“The introduction of peer tutoring has a positive impact on learning – approx. five months additional progress.” Education Endowment Foundation (2018)

The results of our numeracy pilot in 2018 indicated that Franklin Scholars has a marked impact on students’ numeracy attainment, as we found that a greater proportion of Junior Scholars (Y7s) made expected progress in Maths and Franklin Scholars (Y10s) saw a significant jump in their predicted GCSE grade in comparison with their peers. This was especially true for students eligible for Pupil Premium students in both years.

“They seem less bored by maths. At the start, my mentee didn’t want to do anything at all. He just wanted to doodle, but now he’s actually engrossed by his learning.” – Franklin Scholar, Mounts Bay Academy

Following the success of our pilot, we have continued to develop and scale our numeracy programme to support growing numbers of pupils with their numeracy skills across the UK. If your school would like to get involved in the programme please visit our website to find out more.

It is not just older pupils who can effectively support younger students in this way. With the right resources, parents can effectively reinforce their child’s Maths learning and facilitate fun and informative sessions. So, to celebrate Maths Week London, Franklin Scholars would like to invite parents to deliver a short tutoring session, using our resources. Work through the three talk tasks, using the prompt questions at the bottom of each card to further your child’s thinking and reasoning.

Here are our top tips for supporting and praising your child:

  • Focus on the effort that went into a task, and what happened as a result. Achieving is important, but the process of working hard and developing matters just as much. Say, “Well done, you tried very hard on that task. You’ve definitely gotten better as a result.”
  • Appreciate the power of ‘yet’. Remind your child that just because they don’t feel they are good at something now, doesn’t mean they won’t improve in the future. “I don’t know how to do long division, yet.”
  • Be specific with your praise. Say, “She’s good at Maths because she practises her addition at home every evening”, instead of, “She’s really clever.”

We would love to hear of your experience using the talk tasks, so tweet us your pictures and comments @FranklinScholar.

Our numeracy peer mentoring has been subsidised this year by Maths Mission, a partnership set up by Tata and Nesta in 2017 aiming to find innovative ways to increase young people’s interest in maths, and improve their maths and collaborative problem-solving skills.