Talk 4 Number equips teaching assistants with the strategies to help pupils find their mathematical voice and express their mathematical ideas.

Willow Tree Primary School, Ealing

Talk 4 Number

  • helps pupils to talk confidently about number
  • builds mathematical language, understanding and enjoyment
  • develops a wide range of mathematical talk – explaining, instructing, presenting…
  • develops speaking and listening skills in number contexts
  • strengthens reflection and metacognition
  • extends teaching assistants’ subject knowledge and expertise
  • supports mathematical talk throughout the school.

Who is it for?

Pupils mainly in Year 3 and Year 4 who need support and encouragement:

  • to use and understand mathematical language
  • or to talk fluently about their mathematics

and pupils in Year 3 or above who are in the later stages of learning English as an Additional Language

How does it work?

Talk 4 Number comprises 24 sessions, each lasting about 30 minutes. The sessions help pupils to understand and talk confidently about numbers and calculations in a wide range of contexts and to strengthen their reflective and metacognitive skills. It is delivered to a group of 4 pupils by a trained teaching assistant or teacher, about 3 times a week, for 8 weeks. It is delivered outside the classroom, in addition to pupils’ daily mathematics lessons. The teaching assistant is supported by a Link Teacher within the school.

The teaching assistant starts working with their group of pupils straight after the first training day. Then the training runs alongside the implementation of the teaching programme, in that way the Teaching Assistant is trained topic by topic.

Impact on Achievement

Over 1,500 pupils have been supported by Talk 4 Number in 300 schools.

  • They made an average Number Age gain of 12 months in 3 months – 4 times the expected progress.
  • 95% of them showed more confidence and interest in learning mathematics in class after Talk 4 Number.

Training and Professional Development

Local group training is delivered by an ECC Trainer accredited by Edge Hill University.

The training runs alongside the delivery of the intervention and includes:

  • one day and two half days for the teaching assistant
  • how to deliver Talk 4 Number
  • mathematics subject knowledge to enhance delivery
  • mathematics vocabulary development
  • language structures and functions subject knowledge.

A school Link Teacher attends two of the half days

  • how to manage Talk 4 Number for maximum impact
  • running a staff meeting to share its lessons with colleagues.

Many head teachers took an interest in the training and reported that it was the best they had ever seen.

Independent Evaluation of ECC, DfE 2011

Resources and Support

  • detailed session plans and handbook guidance
  • extensive ready to use resources, including the big table-top display book with a built-in whiteboard
  • online guidance and downloadable resources
  • access to the ECC data system, providing detailed analyses of impact and children’s progress – see sample reports here.
  • phone and e-mail support from ECC and the Trainer.

Further Information:

See an example session plan from a Talk 4 Number lesson.


Each local provider determines their own charges to schools depending on local circumstances. The charge for 2023/24 for a new Talk 4 Number teaching assistant, with their Link Teacher, will be in the region of £600.

How do I Access the Training?

Schools can access Talk 4 Number from local ECC providers. Click here to find your nearest provider.