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#325 Developing practitioner confidence in teaching early literacy and numeracy – Wellington Nursery

Crystal Stanley

What did we do?

As an Early Years Implementation Lead, I initially spent time collating information and evidence to accurately diagnose the specific challenges to children’s literacy & numeracy development, within my EY setting. Throughout this process I observed the children, colleagues and daily practice within the room. I reviewed our tracker information to identify areas that we could improve to further support children’s maths and literacy skills. I produced questionnaires for staff measuring their numeracy and literacy teaching confidence levels, to create a baseline to help measure progress throughout the project. This highlighted the following:

  • Development areas where children were commonly showing limited progress and attainment in literacy and maths
  • Gaps in staff knowledge
  • Practitioners sometimes failing to extend children’s knowledge or missing further opportunities to build on children’s learning
  • A lack of literacy/numeracy focused resources in the setting
  • Inconsistency in supporting challenging behaviours during learning time

Based on this evidence, I wrote and redrafted a Securing Achievement action plan with feedback from an Evidence Lead in Education, based within the local Research School. I put this action plan into practice in the setting which included:

  • 1:1 support for targeted children who were underperforming in early numeracy/literacy
  • Delivered intervention sessions focused on a child’s individual needs and explored how to further their learning and development
  • Planning and delivering group numeracy and literacy times
  • Organising literacy and maths activities as a consistent provision in the room
  • Adding literacy and numeracy resources to support the children’s needs
  • Undertaking observations of staff, organising in-setting training and development.
  • Used part of the £2,000 grant to purchase resources to support children’s early maths and literacy skills
  • Ensured that maths and literacy opportunities were present in all areas of the setting, including a new cosy corner literacy area with puppets, wooden story spoons, wooden story slices and a natural alphabet on the wall
  • Created borrow bag resource packs to be loaned to families including literacy and maths activities
  • Changed the books available on a weekly basis
  • Began a ‘story of the month’ initiative with daily activities based around a book, involving a Makaton sign of the week coinciding with the book of the month
  • Used part of the £2,000 grant to buy in training for all staff in the setting for a literacy course and a numeracy course

Within my role as an EYIL, I completed a comprehensive training programme with the IOA project including sessions on the following: principles of effective implementation, drafting action plans, early communication, SEND, supporting children’s early reading/writing, parental engagement, evaluation, improving children’s behaviour and supporting children’s early numeracy.

After completing training, I communicated key learning and best practice back to other staff in setting, during staff meetings and also shared the recorded videos on the Early Years Implementation Lead padlet, when I felt they would be beneficial. I regularly shared project plans and advice about how we could implement each strand through staff meetings and peer support, in the room. This enabled me to successfully cascade learning to other practitioners and colleagues, to help them to better support children’s literacy and numeracy development.

Being part of the EYIL project has really helped our setting to focus on maths and literacy. It was a great way to reflect upon daily practice, look at what our setting offered and identify effective ways to make improvements. I focused our numeracy and literacy activities around our children’s interests, which kept their focus and concentration maintained. The outcomes from these focused activities have shown improvement in the children’s maths and literacy skills.

“What a lovely idea to have borrow bags, we will definitely make the most out of these” (Feedback from one of our parents)

“This has highlighted what we are teaching without realising and how to extend upon learning” (EY Practitioner)

“The new resources have helped to extend the children’s play and made our setting look beautiful” (EY Practitioner)

Summary of impact

The overall impact of this project has had a positive effect upon our setting, staff and children. We carried out staff questionnaires at the beginning and the end of the project and these were our findings:

  • Staff have shown increased confidence, knowledge and a greater range of strategies to support children’s numeracy and literacy development.
  • Peer observations highlight that practitioners are using more mathematical language and engaging better with the children when promoting literacy development, within their daily practice.
  • The children are spontaneously using mathematical and literacy language during their play more frequently compared to at the beginning of the project, with no prompting from staff unless it is to extend their learning.
  • The maths and literacy groups worked well in our setting. The activities engaged, challenged and extended the children’s learning.
  • Staff developed stronger relationships with the children and this helped with their confidence when communicating with adults as well as when talking in front of a small group of other children or to an adult.
  • Children are better prepared for activities they will face when they begin school.
  • Wellcomm data shows improvements in children’s language skills and understanding skills.

Families shared positive feedback (from handover discussions and questionnaires) about the borrow bags we created, commenting on the learning achieved in their home environment.

Steps taken

I created a Securing Achievement Implementation Plan for our setting. One of the first stages involved identifying problems to improve upon, including data from last year’s trackers which showed there is limited progress and attainment in early literacy and numeracy. Through supervision and staff observations, I noted that some colleagues needed to expand their subject knowledge and confidence. Practitioners were not always extending children’s learning and language development, instead missing some opportunities in their daily practice. Staff consistency in supporting challenging behaviours by using the same behavioural strategies throughout the needed to be improved. Whilst literacy and numeracy resources – to support children’s learning and development – needed to be improved to meet the needs of the children in setting.

The implementation we put into practice in the setting included ensuring all children participated in group numeracy and literacy times. If a child needed an intervention for extra 1:1 support this would be delivered by the Early years implementation lead. Data was reviewed regularly to ensure that our implementation goals are being met and anticipated progress was being made.

As the Early Years Implementation Lead, I delivered twice weekly numeracy and literacy activities, to children of the age groups within the setting. Numeracy and literacy resources were added in every area of the environment to help further extend children’s learning. Staff had several training courses to expand their knowledge and understanding of how to help children to meet their learning objectives. Staff and peer observations were regularly undertaken to see how these effectively these were being implemented and utilised throughout the setting.

What would we do differently

I would have involved families more by arranging and delivering parental drop-in sessions, to help with their understanding of numeracy/literacy development and to encourage greater opportunities to extend their children’s learning at home.


Cost to release an EY practitioner for ½ a day per week, for 1 year to: attend training, writing action plan, undertaking relevant duties and monitoring progress.

£2,000 to purchase resources for the children and buy-in staff training.


Resources required

Access to a computer and internet connection to attend virtual training and network meetings.

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Maths in Action - Little Learners Nursery

Developing early numeracy and literacy - Daisy Chain Pre-School

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Wellington Nursery

Crystal Stanley

Early Years Implementation Lead and Family Support Assistant