“I Was Wrong About Third Space” – A Headteacher’s Review

Primary Headteacher Clare Sealy had always been sceptical about Third Space Learning’s online 1-to-1 Maths intervention.

Although she’d written articles for our blog, and used our KS2 Maths resources and assessments, she’d always thought the idea of learning via a tutor online seemed a bit impersonal: “It seemed a bit weird and I wasn’t sure it would work. Might this be like the worst kind of call centre experience?”.

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No shortage of KS2 Maths Interventions

Like many headteachers, she’d used a range of different strategies to help children who struggle in Maths to achieve good conceptual and procedural ability.

She’d introduced after school booster classes run by class teachers, used a Maths specialist teacher to work with small groups or 1:1, and purchased online programmes for children to practise at home.

All of these worked to some degree, but often not enough with the children who really needed the support. Specialist teachers are expensive, teachers – and children for that matter – can only attend so many booster classes, and the online programmes are great for building fluency but the children who use them enthusiastically and get the most out of them are generally those who are already skilled mathematicians.

However, when a headteacher friend told her about the positive impact Third Space had been having at her own school “and how incredible it was to eavesdrop on the session and hear a roomful of children all animatedly explaining their mathematical reasoning”, she started to change her mind.

She knew she had a group of pupils who were close to – but not meeting – the expected level for their age, plus a handful of children with low attainment who were all in need of more targeted Maths support.

If you’ve read Clare’s blogs on ditching marking or formal lesson observations (google them!) you’ll know that she’s never afraid to go out on a limb. So after receiving a demo from the teachers on our schools team she decided to give it a go.

Logistics are straightforward

The teaching assistant allocated to supervise the session collects the children every week at 2:50pm and together they get the laptops out and headsets on and get logged in, ready for their session to begin at 3pm. Once they are all logged in, they are talking to their tutor within seconds. and the TA can get on with something else while the children beaver away.

“Soon, the whole room is buzzing with Maths chat as each pupil interacts with their tutor, solving Maths problems on screen. There is a big emphasis on pupils explaining their reasoning to their tutor; it’s definitely not just drilling through endless problems”

Read more about exactly how our 1-to-1 interventions work and why they’re so popular.

What about the impact? How did it affect the pupils’ results?
At the end of each session, Clare and the class teacher could see a short report for each student showing what they worked on and how they did.

This meant that they could see how each pupil was working to their individual gaps, and becoming much more secure in areas they had struggled with before.

An example of a session report accessible to any school on Third Space Learning's 1-to-1 Maths Intervention programme
An example of a session report accessible to any school on Third Space Learning’s 1-to-1 Maths Intervention programme

“We have just finished our own end of term assessments, and the great news is that all bar one of the ‘borderline’ children we selected are now securely achieving age appropriate levels. The children who started out at a much lower level have also made progress.”

“The programme isn’t a miracle cure, but what is? The children are still some distance away from being at the level expected for their age but for the first time they scored enough marks to actually get a standardised score on the correct assessment for their age range. And we still have more time with them.”

Here’s one KS2 Maths intervention that the pupils LOVE!

Like many of the schools we work with, Clare was also taken aback by how much the children enjoyed their sessions and the impact it had on their confidence.

She spoke to each child separately and almost all of them were gushing in their praise. The pupils talked about how much they liked their tutor, and said it was really helping then get better at Maths – they could feel the difference and felt more confident.

The pupils said it was just as good as working with an in-the-flesh teacher 1-to-1

”The difference for me as a headteacher though is that the Third Space Learning intervention is so much cheaper which means we can target many more children than we could otherwise afford. They really want to carry on next term and say I should buy more spaces so everybody in their class has the same opportunity to take part.”

13 pupils in Clare’s school received 12 weeks of weekly 1-to-1 tuition in lieu of payment for her consultancy and writing work for Third Space Learning.

Third Space Learning Upsell Section


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


Since 2013 these personalised one to one lessons have helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians.


Learn about our experience with schools or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.


The Ultimate Guide to Effective Maths Interventions [FREE]

Find out how to plan, manage, and teach one to one (and small group) maths interventions in primary and secondary schools.

Includes a 20 point checklist of techniques to improve your one to one teaching.

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