This Innovation Work Group will be led by Jean Knapp (Dodwell), J. Knapp – Primary Mathematics Consultant & Specialist Teacher

Mental fluency supports number facts, tables facts and making connections. In a Number Talk, these areas form the basis for discussion and underpinning this, variation, mathematical discussion and representation (the Big Ideas of Mastery Mathematics).
The importance of mental fluency supports easily recalled number facts from long term memory to support quick recall and longer, written algorithms. Without this both speed, written calculations are impaired and often, with this, number confidence.
Number Talks were created by Kathy Richardson and Ruth Parker in the early 1990s * to engage students in meaningful mathematical discourse and sense-making as well as transform the culture of the classroom to one of inquiry and curiosity.

What is a Number Talk?

Number Talks are an approach to developing facility with computation that engages children in thinking about numbers and allows them to add, subtract, multiply and divide using the mathematics that is meaningful to them.

The typical steps for a number talk are:

  • Teacher presents an expression or problem for pupils to solve mentally.
  • Allow adequate “wait time” for most students to come up with an answer. pupils can signal with a thumbs up when they have solved the expression.
  • Initially, invite pupils to share their answers only, not their solutions.
  • Then ask for pupil volunteers to share how they solved the problem.
  • For each pupil who shares their solution strategy, chart their thinking on the board. Make sure to accurately record their thinking; do not shape or correct their response.
  • Have several pupils who used different strategies share their thinking with the class.
  • Invite pupils to question each other about their strategies, compare and contrast the strategies, and ask for clarification about strategies that are confusing.

However, Jean would like to test the model further to support retrieval (reviewing past explored strategies) and application at speed in a time limited situation.


What does the project involve?

The project will involve a half-day day of training on Zoom (including planning for the first lesson study), followed by six half-days;

  • x4 half day lesson studies (a.m. – initially through zoom and monitoring the COVID situation for F2F meetings if the situation changes)
  • x1 half day follow up sharing, refining and dissemination approaches to the wider school and TAs as a SL (p.m.)
  • x1 half day workgroup Presentation to Schools (a.m.)

Sessions will take place across the Autumn 2020, Spring 2021 and Summer 2021.  Between sessions there will be gap tasks involving trialling the use of the approaches explored in the training, discussions and lesson studies.  The workgroup lead will offer support in designing the sequences, demonstrating teaching and orchestrating the lesson study discussions. Participating teachers are expected to work collaboratively, teach a whole class or small group in their own schools, reflect critically on pupils’ learning and their own professional learning.

In the event schools can resume visits, some participants will be expected to host a learning study in their school for the workgroup. This requires allocating a space for the workgroup to gather and for the group teaching sessions to take place.

Refreshments will be provided (for any non-Zoom sessions that may take place) tea/coffee refreshments provided by the host school/s will be reimbursed).

The project’s aims involve four key areas:

  • Professional Learning – Participating teachers understand the content, purpose and potential of a number talk, be aware of their role and the role of their pupils and consider its benefits with mental fluency.
  • Practice Development – Participating teachers will become increasingly skilled at having a toolbox of strategies and lesson ideas to explore number talks, including scaffolds to support the teacher role and the role of pupils when building a successful number talk.
  • Materials development – Exemplar materials will be developed and shared across the Hub in the form of case studies and some practical materials. A PADLET will be created that participants could share with their schools and across the hub (sorted into Key Stages and Topics).
  • Whole school/departmental policies and approaches – Exemplar materials and guidance will be developed and shared across the Hub. In particular, these will be shared with subject leaders to inform their whole school development of establishing good practice in optimal learning environments for a number talk, teacher questioning, strategies and a considered application to a tested curriculum.

Schools can choose to send up two members of staff – Ideally, there would be the Mathematics Subject Leader/Team representative and another teacher from KS1 and KS2.


  • Friday 20th November 2020 – Project Launch & Preparation (1/2 Day)


Via Zoom

  • Monday 7th December 2020 – Lesson Study* 1 – 9:30 – 11:45a.m.

         Gap Task

  • Tuesday 9th February 2021 Lesson Study* 2 – 9:30 – 11:45a.m.

         Gap Task

  • Monday 8th March 2021 Lesson Study* 3 – 9:30 – 11:45a.m.

        Gap Task

  • Monday 22nd March 2021 Lesson Study* 4 – 9:30 – 11:45a.m.

All of these will take place via Zoom. We will monitor the situation and resume school visits when safe to do so.

  • Monday 24th May 2021 – Sharing and Dissemination Meeting & Developing the SL Role – How do we disseminate the ideas to the wider school (inc. TAs and Parents)? – 1:30-3:30p.m.

Zoom (at this stage)

      Gap Task

  •  Monday 7th June 2021 – Presentation Day – 9:30-11:45a.m  Zoom (at this stage)

In order to apply to be a part of this project, you will need to fill out an Expression of Interest Form.  To see the full flyer, see here

The deadline to fill this out is Monday 9th November 2020

Contact or

*The London Central and West Maths Hub reserves the right to charge a £75 fee for non-attendance to the sessions or for cancellations to any of the sessions with less than 1 week’s notice.


Useful Reading:

* Parrish, Sherry (2010) Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies. Math Solutions.

* Humphreys, Cathy and Parker, Ruth. 2015. Making Number Talks Matter: Developing Mathematical Practices and Deepening Understanding, Grades 4-10. Stenhouse Publishers.

Privacy Notice: Maths Hubs Programme

Who we are:

This work is being carried out by your Maths Hub Lead School, which holds a grant with the Department for Education (DfE) to deliver the Maths Hub programme.

For the purpose of data protection legislation, the DfE is the data controller, and the Maths Hub Lead School is the data processor for the personal data processed as part of the Maths Hubs programme.

How we will use your information:

The Maths Hub Lead School collects and processes your personal data on behalf of the DfE for the following purposes:

  • To enable the lead school to carry out specific functions for which they are responsible
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More information about this work is available at,, and

The nature of your personal data we will be using:

The categories of your personal data that the Maths Hub Lead School will collect, process, hold and share for this project may include:

  • Name (including previous names)
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Why our use of your personal data is lawful:

In order for our use of your personal data to be lawful, we need to meet one (or more) conditions in the data protection legislation. For the purpose of the Maths Hubs and Teaching for Mastery programmes, processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest, as defined in Article 6 (1)(e) of the GDPR.

Who we will make your personal data available to:

We sometimes need to make personal data available to other organisations. These might include contracted partners (who we have employed to process your personal data on our behalf) and/or other organisations (with whom we need to share your personal data for specific purposes).

Where we need to share your personal data with others, we ensure that this data sharing complies with data protection legislation. For the purpose of the Maths Hubs programme:

  • NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics), with whom the DfE holds a contract to coordinate and manage the Maths Hubs programme, is a data processor.
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As such, personal data collected by Maths Hubs that is relevant to the successful coordination and delivery of the Maths Hubs programme will be shared with the DfE, the NCETM, and other Maths Hub Lead Schools. Such data may also be shared with an independent evaluator of the Maths Hubs programme and Teaching for Mastery programme.

The DfE reserves the right to share your personal data with new lead schools where additional Maths Hubs are appointed or where a lead school is de-designated and lead school status is transferred. The DfE also reserves the right to share your personal data with any organisation or consortium that holds a future contract with the DfE to coordinate and manage the Maths Hubs programme or with an independent body who will use the data to evaluate the work of the programme.

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Your personal data will not be transferred outside of United Kingdom or the European Union.

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The Department will only keep your personal data for the lifetime of the Maths Hubs programme and, where relevant, Teaching for Mastery programme plus 6 months, after which point it will be securely destroyed. Please note that, under Data Protection legislation, and in compliance with the relevant data processing conditions, personal data can be kept for longer periods of time when processed purely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research, and statistical purposes.

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Under certain circumstances, you have the right:

  • to ask us for access to information about you that we hold
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  • not to be subject to decisions based purely on automated processing where it produces a legal or similarly significant effect on you

Please contact the Maths Hub Lead School regarding any of the above Find your hub | NCETM 

Further information about your data protection rights appears on the Information Commissioner’s website at: Guide to Data Protection | ICO and Individual rights | ICO

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Where we are processing your personal data with your consent, you have the right to withdraw that consent. If you change your mind, or you are unhappy with our use of your personal data, please let us know by contacting the Maths Hub Lead School and state the name of this project.

Alternatively, you have the right to raise any concerns with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) via their website at

Last updated:

We may need to update this privacy notice periodically, so we recommend that you revisit this information from time to time. This version was last updated: September 2023.

Contact Info:

If you have any questions about how your personal information will be used, please contact the Maths Hub Lead School and enter “Maths Hub privacy notice” as a reference. For the DfE’s Data Protection Officer (DPO), please contact us via and mark it for the attention of the ‘DPO’.