Identifying maths learning difficulties and supporting learners

A survey to our customers in 2021 showed how teachers and SENCOs are always on the lookout for new tools to help them understand why some learners aren’t making the expected progress they should be, reasons why this might be happening and help providing evidence when extra support is needed.

Further research showed that it is in maths where schools have the fewest resources, despite mathematical learning difficulties affecting at least 25% of the UK population, and its potentially huge impact on schooling, further education and jobs. Research in 2018 by Queen’s University Belfast identified that a learner is 100 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of dyslexia than SLDM (Specific Learning Disorder in Mathematics)/ developmental dyscalculia.[1]

Not only are maths difficulties underdiagnosed, the formal maths curriculum might also be contributing to learners' maths difficulties. Maths is intrinsically hierarchical and sequential, as each new skill needs to build upon successful mastery of earlier skills, yet there are often pressures to ‘move on’ quickly to the next level, so learners may often be building a new skill on insecure foundations.

This can then lead to a cumulative sense of failure and self-doubt, and maths anxiety is becoming much more recognised. Maths difficulties often stem from perceptual or cognitive weaknesses, but affective and emotional responses to the maths classroom can also have a significant impact on learners who find maths hard.

Our new diagnostic tool, SNAP Maths, has been developed as an assessment for those with suspected maths learning difficulties/dyscalculia and maths anxiety, to identify the specific barriers to a pupils' maths learning so strategies can be put in place. SNAP Maths tests a range of numerical skills and general cognitive skills that are crucial for maths learning, such as Subitising, Comparing numbers, Processing speed and Visual memory.


Example Activitiy: Using sight facts

Teacher, parent/carer and pupil questionnaires can be used alongside the activities to explore the nature of barriers facing learners – both cognitive and emotional. All of this helps to build a holistic picture, allowing support and interventions to be precisely tailored and focussed, targeting the most significant barriers to maths learning.


Teacher Questionnaire

When it comes to special educational needs, early-identification is key, and the hope is that SNAP Maths will provide SENCOs and teachers with a toolkit to identify why a learner's maths learning journey might not be going as well as it could be, and to equip them with targeted interventions and strategies to help improve not only a learner's attainment, but their confidence and attitude towards maths too.




Assessment, Intervention and SEN, Maths, SEN, SENCO, SEND

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