Research School Network: TEEMUP – why should your school get involved in this research? Have you ever felt that a lot of educational research isn’t relevant to you? It’s a fair challenge, but TEEMUP is different.


TEEMUP – why should your school get involved in this research?

Have you ever felt that a lot of educational research isn’t relevant to you? It’s a fair challenge, but TEEMUP is different.

by East London Research School
on the

If you’ve ever wondered why your school should get involved in research – I think it’s a fair enough question. We’re all short of time. Some educational research can seem a little esoteric and leave us wondering – so how is this going to help me and the children I work with?

I’m going to start by answering this question from a personal/​professional perspective. I am also going to suggest that you have a look at an important opportunity that’s just come up if you’re working in a school in East or North London, Thurrock, North Kent or Southend-on-Sea.

First, a brief personal story. A few decades back I’d just got a deputy headship. Already pretty daunted within a few hours of my first day, I discovered that the school was part of the Effective pre-school, primary and secondary education (EPPSE) project. It felt bad enough that everyone was looking to me for answers and solutions. Now I’d have a researcher in asking me questions and watching me teach, too. 

I couldn’t have felt much more afraid.

In fact, I quickly learnt that I didn’t have the answers to questions staff put to me, most of the time anyway. They generally had the answers themselves, and the best thing I could do was discuss problems and challenges as they came up and work out the best way forward, together. 

Being part of a research project is hugely educative

I also learnt another big lesson from the EPPSE researchers. Being part of a project like this is hugely educative. Just the process of answering the questions they put to me, helped me to clarify so many thoughts. It shook up some stale ideas I had, and shook out lots of nonsense I had picked up on the way as a teacher, doing things because someone else had always done them like that. The whole experience was educative and illuminative for me.

What’s better: I made a small contribution to increasing knowledge. I firmly believe that many millions of children in England, and beyond, have benefitted from the findings of the EPPSE project. Without EPPSE, there would have been no Foundation Stage, no Children’s Centres, and much less of the flourishing of early years practice and thinking we’ve enjoyed since the year 2000. We often do ourselves down about how good our early years provision is in England. The EPPSE Project helped us all to celebrate the best, but also question and rethink approaches that had gone past their sell-by date. 

Early numeracy: the strongest predictor of a child’s later success?

So, onto the main purpose of this blog. As our understanding of early childhood education grows, there’s the fascinating suggestion that early numeracy might be the strongest predictor of a child’s later success in their education. We already know that children’s earliest play is very mathematical. The researchers Douglas Clements and Julie Sarama comment that children, including toddlers, engage in spontaneous mathematics during almost half of every minute of free play.’

Yet young children in the early years and key stage one can get switched off’ maths. What happens to all of that natural curiosity? Are we as good as we need to be at teaching the concepts children need to know, to develop as successful mathematicians in their earliest years?

Maths should be satisfying and enjoyable for young children. It’s a vital part of their early learning. Clearly, knowing more about this will help us individually as professionals, and may also help to build crucial new knowledge about effective early learning that will benefit many thousands or even millions of children now, and in the future. 


If you sign up for the TEEMUP study, which is funded by the EEF, you will benefit from £750 of funding.

Some schools will be in the intervention group, and they’ll get the chance to take part in high-quality professional development and to pilot two innovative scales. 

One scale focuses on practice development, the other on behaviour for learning. 

The control group schools will also access the same high-quality professional training, after the trial has finished. This research is all about improving young children’s lives and opportunities. It will help schools to reflect on and improve their early maths curriculum and teaching. You can find out more here.

Would you like to know more about improving maths provision for the youngest children in your school? The EEF’s guidance report, Improving Mathematics in the Early Years and Key Stage One, offers an excellent and practical summary. 

You can also hear our Evidence Lead in Education, Fliss James, talking about how to put the evidence into action on the latest podcast from the EEF.

Evidence into Action
Evidence into Action

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