IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


The Math Project

A response to poor numeracy levels and the chronic shortage of maths teachers in UK primary schools.

Image: Third Space Learning

7 September 2017


Poor numeracy skills not only have a lasting effect on individuals, the impact is also felt on a macro level.

  • People with poor numeracy are twice as likely to be unemployed
  • UK children from poor backgrounds are twice as likely to fail academically (National Numeracy, 2015)
  • Less than 2% of UK primary school teachers have maths-related degrees
  • Poor numeracy costs the UK economy £20 billion per year.


The UK Government's £2.8 billion Pupil Premium scheme to supplement maths education for disadvantaged pupils appears to have fallen short as 48% of local authorities saw attainment gaps increase in 2014.

Reversing this trend is possible through 1-to-1 maths tuition, which brings about positive impacts as it enables primary school students to catch up. Although schools have the ability to identify pupils requiring support and unlock Pupil Premium funding, unfortunately they may lack the resources to implement 1-to-1 tuition at scale.

To help address the maths teacher shortage, Third Space Learning (TSL) recruits maths graduates from around the world to provide 1-to-1 maths tuition in virtual classrooms accessed by UK pupils. Over 180 schools engage in over 2,000 TSL sessions each week.

To maintain a high level of quality, TSL assessors manually review and grade 5% of sessions weekly - however this is a costly, inefficient and inconsistent process that restricts TSL's scalability.


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In partnership with TSL, the UCL Knowledge Lab is working on the MATH project, an automated session grading algorithm to monitor teaching quality and determine its correlation to learning outcomes.

This quality assurance system will ensure high quality teaching, leading to better outcomes and allow TSL to automatically analyse tutor performance, identify best practice and develop excellence at scale.

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