# 10 Maths Intervention Strategies To Close The Maths Attainment Gap

**Maths intervention strategies impact how effective interventions are and how quickly they can accelerate student learning. With schools stretched for budget, resources and time, maths interventions must draw on the most effective strategies.**

This article aims to help SLT, teachers and intervention staff to integrate effective strategies into their maths intervention to close the learning gaps of their students.

## What are maths intervention strategies?

Maths intervention strategies are the teaching strategies used by teachers and tutors to support learners in mathematics interventions.

Effective maths intervention strategies may make use of some of the research-based strategies used in whole class teaching, such as explicit instruction, visual representation, hands-on learning and formative assessment.

However, maths interventions and the strategies used do differ from whole class teaching. Interventions use diagnostic assessment to identify the learning gaps and misconceptions holding back struggling students and use learning strategies to provide the targeted extra support needed for pupils to catch up with their peers. Maths intervention strategies can be used in whole class contexts and small group and one to one tutoring.

The Ultimate Guide to Effective Maths Interventions

Find out how to plan, manage, and teach one to one (and small group) maths interventions to raise attainment in the students who need it most.

Download Free Now!## What makes maths intervention strategies effective?

Effective maths intervention strategies will draw on education sciences and research. These strategies will have the biggest impact on student outcomes as they are tried and tested.

However, the best maths intervention strategies may vary depending on the age of students, the educational context and the intervention approach.

For example, research suggests that interventions led by teaching assistants have more impact in primary schools than in secondary school interventions and that some intervention strategies have more impact on students identified as FSM compared with non-FSM identified students.

When designing maths interventions and training intervention staff and teachers, it’s important to consider this information to select the best strategies to help your students.

**READ MORE**: **GCSE intervention strategies**

Who will benefit from maths intervention strategies

All students can benefit from maths intervention strategies. But with limited school budgets, resources and time, it’s important to identify the pupils who will benefit most and plan accordingly. It can be beneficial to adopt a tiered approach, also known as response to intervention (RTI).

Maths intervention strategies should be introduced when students perform below age-related or GCSE grade level, or when they have not mastered a maths skill. This can be identified through a range of data.

However, not all of these students require an intensive intervention program to catch up. Many learners can catch up in their main classroom and simply require in-class intervention, such as reteaching or differentiated instruction.

However, some students will require more personalised maths instruction and intervention to develop a full understanding of mathematical concepts. This is where students will move to the next tier as they are at risk of not meeting expected outcomes.

As an interventionist lead or member of SLT, you can access the data your school holds on assessment and progress tracking to identify these pupils. It’s likely your school has additional data to closely monitor FSM (Free School Meals), PP (pupil premium), EAL (English as an additional language) and SEN (special education) pupils. But if they don’t, these could be priority groups. If you’re working in the secondary context, you may also target borderline 4/5 grade level candidates as they approach their GCSE exams.

As a classroom teacher, you can additionally use your own progress tracking information, formative assessment and knowledge about your pupils to make recommendations about and referrals for the students who need extra support outside of their main classroom.

10 maths intervention strategies

In this article, we’ve put together the most effective and versatile maths intervention strategies suitable and adaptable for whole-class, small group or one to one learning interventions.

### 1. Cover, copy, compare

**Best for:** Practising maths facts and times tables fluency. This retrieval practice helps pupils to develop number sense and skills that lay the foundation of their maths education.

**How it works: **

- Choose up to 10 sums for the pupils to practise.
- Write the facts along the left side of a piece of paper.
- The pupil reviews the sums and folds the paper so that they can only see the problem, not the answer.
- They then complete the sums.
- Finally, the pupil lifts the paper to compare their answers with the correct responses.
- They complete this process until they have learned all the sums off by heart.

### 2. Intermixing challenging and easy problems

**Best for:** Fact retrieval and fluency

**How it works:** Build a maths practice worksheet that incorporates a 1:1 ratio of problems that are easy and challenging for the student.

For example, they may provide a mix of two-digit multiplication problems, intermixed with addition problems.

### 3. Peer-assisted learning strategies (PALS)

**Best for:** Reviewing concepts

**How it works:** PALS or Peer Assisted Learning Strategies is a peer tutoring strategy where students are put into learning pairs where one student has mastered the concept and another is still working on the skill.

It also works best when each student has something to give—so one student is stronger in fluency and the other is stronger in tackling word problems, for example.

To implement PALS, assign students to be the “coach” or the “player.”

- The coach models how to solve a problem, and the player follows the coach’s lead.
- The coach then talks through the problem
- After, the player works through a problem explaining their process
- The player then completes another problem independently, scaffolded by their peer’s worked example
- Finally, the coach checks the answer and maths workings

### 4. Self-monitoring fact fluency

**Best for:** Maths fact fluency

**How it works:** In this intervention, students monitor their fact fluency during time drills. This metacognitive strategy helps to encourage students to take ownership of their learning and progress.

- Students review their initial fluency and set a goal. For example, the number of correct sums or a ‘score to beat,’
- They practise the skill and take regular time drills for 5-10 minutes — ensure the student has sufficient practice materials, including worksheets with the type of problem the student is focusing on.
- When the student hears the timer, they circle the problem they are working on, count the number of problems completed since the previous sound, and record the number of completed problems.
- At the end of the period, the student adds the total problems completed and compares it to the previous day to see if they beat their score.

### 5. Self-monitoring problem solving

**Best for:** Problem solving

**How it works:** Self-monitoring means that a student can talk themselves through a word problem and think about what they are doing at each step. Students can be taught to ask themselves:

- Do I understand the question?
- Have I done a problem like this before?
- Can I use a strategy I have used before for this problem?
- If it doesn’t work, what else can I try?

Students may need a checklist of questions to work through until they have mastered the self-monitoring process.

### 6. Self-checking

**Best for: **problem solving

**How it works:** Students who struggle may wait until the end of the problem to check their work. Instead, teach them to check their work along the way so they catch any errors. Train them to stop after each step and ask:

- Does this look right?
- If I put my answer back into the problem, does it make sense?
- Do I see any mistakes that I can fix?

### 7. Say, ask, check

**Best for:** Problem solving

**How it works:** This intervention combines metacognition strategies, visualisation, and making the process of problem solving explicit.

It is better for older students who can follow longer problem solving steps:

- Read the problem
- Paraphrase or restate the problem in your own words
- Create a drawing of the problem
- Create a plan to solve the problem
- Predict or estimate the answer
- Calculate the answer
- Check the answer.

Considering metacognition in the classroom helps students follow the sequence Say, Ask, Check for each step in the process.

- Say the purpose of the step
- Ask themselves what they need to do to complete the step
- Check that they have successfully completed the step

### 8. Graphic organisers

**Best for:** Problem solving

**How it works:** Graphic organizers help to show what a maths problem is asking. It helps students to organise the information presented so that they can work with it.

This is especially helpful for students who have difficulty remembering information from one step to the next because it records their thinking at each step.

### 9. Visual representations

**Best for: **Reinforcing concepts

**How it works:** Visualising maths can help students who are struggling with maths concepts, especially for students with learning disabilities. Teachers can use visual aids such as:

- Number lines to help with counting skills, from one-to-one correspondence to working with negative numbers.
- Illustrations to help make concepts less abstract and can be used to show addition or subtraction problems to modelling word problems.
- Charts and graphs show the relationship between numbers or concepts, like using a pie chart to represent a fraction.

### 10. Manipulatives

**Best for: **Practising concepts

**How it works:** Using maths manipulatives while working through problems helps make maths tangible. For example:

- Fraction tiles help students visualise and compare fractions.
- Unix cubes can be used to show amounts, develop numeracy skills and tackle addition and subtraction problems, and model tens and ones.
- Place value blocks help to develop number sense and show students amounts of hundreds, tens, and ones.
- Ten frames are a way to support students working with base ten when they are creating numbers and working with amounts.

How to maximise maths interventions and student learning

Maths intervention, from in-class reteaching to intensive intervention, creates opportunities for students.

Using evidence-based interventions and supporting students with intervention suitable for their age and learning needs, can pave the way for students to make important gains in their maths skills and catch up with their peers.

With over a decade of experience working with schools to deliver maths interventions, here are some of our tips to maximise learning:

**Focus on developing a positive learning environment:**This will improve student attendance to intervention sessions, having a direct impact on student outcomes. Additionally, it can help reduce maths anxiety.**Link to classroom teaching:**EEF research indicates that both one-to-one and small group tuition is most effective when carefully linked with classroom teaching. Ensure that interventionists work closely with classroom teachers and share progress.**Intervention support for all:**Remember that interventions don’t always need to be in small groups or one to one contexts and can start in your classroom. Making use of formative assessment and tracking pupil progress can ensure you are supporting all students that need it. You can also offer drop-in sessions which can offer a low-resource strategy that ensures all students feel supported.

How can Third Space Learning support maths interventions?

Third Space Learning provides personalised one to one tutoring programmes for primary and secondary schools, including GCSE. Over the past 10+ years, we’ve supported over 4,000 schools to provide cost-effective one to one maths tutoring to their target students.

Our qualified tutors are trained by experienced teachers and pedagogy experts to support student progress and utilise a range of effective maths intervention strategies to boost progress.

Interventions are assessment-led. All students complete an initial diagnostic assessment to identify what support they need and tutors use formative assessment every lesson to personalise their learning further.

Third Space Learning not only supports students who need one to one support. Primary schools receiving one to one tutoring from Third Space Learning also receive full access to Maths Hub which includes ready to go lesson slides, worksheets and booster group resources. All secondary schools have access to our GCSE Maths Revision Guides, GCSE Maths Papers and GCSE Revision Resources.

## Maths intervention strategies FAQs

**What are interventions for maths?**

Interventions for maths involve personalised maths teaching that targets the learning gaps of an individual or group of students with the aim of closing the gap, enabling students to catch up with their peers.

**How to support struggling maths students?**

If you have students who are struggling with maths, they may need intervention. Use diagnostic assessment to identify learner needs, choose the intervention approach best suited for the students, and schedule timely and regular intervention sessions. Use formative assessment to track their progress and make adjustments as necessary.

**Where to start with maths intervention?**

If you’re looking to start a maths intervention, the best place to start is with diagnostic assessment. This will enable you to identify the gaps that are holding them back. Next, you will need to choose the best intervention response for their needs: in-class, in small groups or one to one? You’ll need to consider the needs of the individual pupil to decide this.

**DO YOU HAVE STUDENTS WHO NEED MORE SUPPORT IN MATHS?**

Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly maths intervention programmes designed to plug gaps and boost progress.

Since 2013 these personalised one to one lessons have helped over 169,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians.

Learn how we can teach multiple pupils at once or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.