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Mental Health Week

As we come to the end of a successful Children’s Mental Health Week, I cannot help but reflect on the relationship between literacy/numeracy and mental health.

I remember feeling quite concerned when we all returned from lockdown.  I heard many people say that the ‘academic’ side was not the priority because of the need to concentrate on mental health. Of course, the impact of Covid on our mental health was significant and I understood what people were saying but there seemed to be a lack of awareness about the link there can be between our ‘academic’ ability and our mental health.

We have all read about ‘maths until 18’ in the news recently.  This government policy arises out of the fact that one third of young people do not pass their GSCE.  As soon as children feel they have ‘failed’ they experience disengagement, low self-esteem…the list could go on. I cannot imagine that this large group of young people would want to extend that pain to the age of 18.  The knock-on to their mental health can be significant. 

The link between low literacy/numeracy and mental health starts at an early age.  ‘Many children with difficulty in learning to read develop a negative self-concept within their first two years of schooling.’ (Chapman, Turner, Prochnow 2000).

With this in mind, image how these young people feel by the time they are 16 years old.

Obviously, there are a number of other significant factors involved, however there is a clear link between low levels of literacy/numeracy and mental health.  As Boyes (2016) says, ‘reading difficulties are a key risk factor for the development of later mental health problems.’

We need to eliminate this risk by ensuring that children leave primary school fluent readers and confident mathematicians. But, how?

Teachers can, themselves, read and count confidently and often this leads to the mistaken belief that they must be able to teach it. This is not always the case.  Any of you who have been through an intensive phonics training programme will know there is much more to it!  Teachers (which includes all staff working with children) need to welcome professional development around these areas and they need to see it as an absolute priority. They need to have a growing understanding of the links between this essential knowledge and mental health; integrating this into their teaching.

Children who are beginning to show signs of difficulty need to be given targeted support.  It needs to be at a level that builds their confidence as well as their knowledge.  To do this the curriculum and intervention targets need to be broken down into small steps so each child experiences success at their point in the journey and does not become overwhelmed.

If parents engage, children will get regular practice and retrieval opportunities in school and at home.  Engaging parents will help promote learning as a positive experience for all in the home.  The best way to engage parents is little and often rather than one-off events to talk to them about these key aspects of learning.  

As Children’s Mental Health Week comes to an end, ask yourself if your school community understands the link between low literacy/numeracy and mental health? Then, review your priorities and actions in light of this understanding.  Are staff well-equipped, do children get the targeted support required and are parents engaged with helping their child to practice these skills at home?

We must work together to make education a positive experience for our children’s mental health.

Trust Improvement Lead, North East

I have been hugely impressed by the level of forensic thinking that sits behind WWN. It is far from a simple programme, but rather an approach that is rooted in robust evidence of how number can be taught in a way that is accessible to all pupils. WWN offers a cohesive and evidence-informed approach to teacher-development too. It is clear that WWN has been created by people who understand school leadership, curriculum design, teaching and learning.


Maths Leader, Dubai

Winning With Numbers is easy to use and it clearly shows progress in learning. It is helping to bridge gaps, challenge students and achieve targets in maths across the school. Students and parents are able to follow the learning journey and are eager to complete WINs. There is a real buzz at our school as students achieve their WINs, we are absolutely loving the WWN app! :)


Y3 Teacher, Cardiff

Anything by Ben gets my vote! It is great to see something that has been created by someone who understands children, teachers, workload and numeracy. Through Ben's expertise, I have improved my skills in teaching maths and he has made me want to teach maths rather than fear it. This is exactly what we want for children also.


Maths Leader, Harrogate

The Winning With Numbers training was fantastic, we learned so much and have been really inspired. I'm still blown away with how brilliant the platform is and I'm excited to be getting going with it. It has already made a big difference in our school.


Class Teacher, West Wales

What Ben doesn't know about maths and the way we teach it...!!! His huge amount of expertise and experience has been a game changer for the way we teach maths! His programme makes us think differently about maths and both staff and students now really enjoy teaching and learning in this key subject.


Tutor, Northumberland

I love the simplicity of Winning with Numbers - the focus on putting in place the small building blocks of mastering foundational maths skills, in a very ordered way. I also love how there are ways for a student to review a topic if they feel they need to; giving them some ownership of their learning. This programme is a great addition to my tutoring sessions.


Deputy Headteacher, London

WWN is a highly effective programme that is deeply rooted in the science of learning with the pay off that teacher workload is minimised. It ticks all the boxes! We have seen progress maximised in each session and within a few weeks of teaching WWN.


Home-Educator, South Wales

My daughter is really enjoying Winning With Numbers and it is showing me the gaps she has in her knowledge. It has been really good going back to fill the gaps. She loves getting the celebration videos when she does well. She smiles so much! I never thought it meant this much to her but it definitely does! I would definitely recommend.


Parent, Bridgend

My son is loving it! As a teacher, I know he is getting what he needs and it is great to have something my son can work through on his own. The timer is a really helpful option. He has first built his confidence and then we can add to the challenge by using the timer option. Thank you!


Tutor, Ireland

All the students I work with are loving Winning With Numbers and the 'Be the Expert' videos are brilliant for preparing me for each session.


Partners & Awards

Winning With Numbers works to collaborate with others to improve the life chances of young people.  Winning With Numbers is delighted to partner with some highly effective organisations .  If you would like to partner with us, please do get in touch.