What is East Lothian Numeracy and Mathematics all about? It's a framework and pedagogy used to support development of children’s numerical knowledge. Using this approach early on in school can help to ensure that number is understood from the start. 

How does it fit in to the school curriculum and resources? This approach supports teaching and learning in the classroom. It has a clear progression which can be followed as you teach. This enables pupils to develop numerical knowledge at their own pace. You can choose to use other resources or schemes to enhance your lessons alongside.

What is Numeracy Academy? This is our approach to Career Long Professional Learning (CLPL) which has been used over a number of years in East Lothian to develop staff understanding of how children learn number and to develop confidence in teaching numeracy. 

What is East Lothian's Signpost Framework? This is the framework for learning numeracy based on the Stages of Early Arithmetical Learning (SEAL).

How do the signposts relate to Curriculum for Excellence?

There are 8 Phases which broadly equate to Nursery – Primary 7.

  • Phase   1 and 2: Early Level
  • Phases 3-5:        First Level
  • Phases 6-8:        Second Level 


What is the difference between stages and phases?

The Stages of Early Arithmetical Learning (SEAL) is a model that we can use to understand the development of children’s numerical knowledge.



Stage 0: Emergent Counting

  • Cannot count visible items
  • The child may not know the number words.
  • The child cannot coordinate number words with items.

Stage 1: Perceptual Counting

  • Can count perceived items
  • May involve seeing, hearing or feeling items.

Stage 2: Figurative Counting

  • Can count the total of two collections.
  • Counts from one

Stage 3: Initial Number Sequence

  • Child uses and understands counting-on rather than counting-from-one.
  • Uses counting on to solve addition and missing addend tasks.
  • May use count-down-from strategies

Stage 4: Intermediate Number Sequence

  • The child uses and understands count-down-from strategies and count-down-to strategies
  • The child can choose the most efficient strategy.

Stage 5:Facile Number Sequence

The child uses a range of non-count by one strategies:

  • Compensation
  • Using known results
  • Adding to ten
  • Commutativity
  • Subtraction as the inverse of addition
  • Awareness of ten as a teen numb


The Phases outlined in the East Lothian Signpost Framework show a progression of key knowledge and understanding in numerical concepts.

There are 8 Phases which broadly equate to Nursery – Primary 7.

Phase 1 and 2: Early Level

Phases 3 -5: First Level

Phases 6-8: Second Level

The phases focus on 5 key areas:

  • Understanding Numbers and Numerals
  • Number Structuring for Addition and Subtraction
  • Understanding Multiples and Sequences of Multiples
  • Grouping and Sharing for Multiplication and Division
  • Fractions, Decimals and Percentages

Why am I finding using this resource difficult? Numeracy Academy challenges your own perception of how children learn numeracy. It is very much a build on approach to develop children’s understanding in practical, problem solving based learning. It can take a while to get into the swing of using the techniques, questioning and resources. Persevere and experiment to find out what works for you and your class. It may be easier to just try one or two aspects initially, perhaps forward number words sequences and addition which will keep you focused and allow you to see the links between these two concepts. It is also supportive to chat about what works and what doesn’t work with others who are in the same position.

Why is the jargon so tricky? It will remain tricky, as often the terminology is not what you would use in your everyday teaching and so you may never become completely confident with using these terms. As long as you are clear on what you are teaching and can discuss concepts in a child friendly way with your class don’t worry too much. If the resource throws up a term/ phrase you are unsure about the ‘Teaching Number’ book and the website are helpful. You can also visit (and contribute to) our Glossary page.

Are there opportunities for observing good practice? Using the modules and video clips on this web site and our YouTube channel will allow you to see some teaching examples. If there are other staff trained within your school it is worth sharing ideas and observing each other to build your own confidence. Numeracy leaders within your school or local authority should be able to put you in touch with colleagues who you could observe/share good practice with.

How do I record/plan using the East Lothian Signpost Framework? The framework can be used as a basis for group or individual trackers. You may also find that your planning changes a little when teaching using these approaches and this may be easily adapted into your existing school planning and assessment formats. It may be worthwhile having a small group tracker that you use over a few sequenced lessons as you will find you might want to write notes/memos about individual children and groups during your teacher led sessions. This can be useful when feeding back to your forward plans.

Do I use the assessments for every child? You could do this but it can take a lot of time. If introducing this into your class, it may be easier to assess one or two children within a group for initial placement on the ‘breakdown of phases’ document. That would give you a good starting point. Once you have found your first focus for each group you can take it from there. It will become clear that children may need to move within groups as they may need more/less input with certain concepts. Don’t worry about this as children can be in different phases for different concepts.

What if a child just is not understanding what I am teaching? Persevere and have confidence in yourself, often we move on too quickly but it can take time and regular exposure to grasp new concepts. Use the children in their group to support their learning. Can the others model how they have worked it out? Can you add another strategy to support the child? It may be that you have to work backwards and give more support materials to find where the child is confident and then reassess how you introduce more sophisticated problems. Use the assessments and hinge questioning to support this. There will always be colleagues who would happily provide ideas and techniques which may help.

It is important to identify if there is a particular area of difficulty. This can be done through targeted diagnostic assessments as described in the book “Early Numeracy Assessment for Teaching and Intervention” by Wright, Martland and Stafford (the "blue book").

Use the document Assessments Linked to Framework for Learning in Number to identify which Assessment Interview Schedule to use. It is always a good idea to video the assessments and review at a later stage. The annotated observations from the assessments will give you a starting point for teaching and ideas for suitable activities can be found in the green book “Teaching Number – Advancing children’s skills and strategies”.

Over time you will develop a range of activities or ideas you can draw upon. Start with inquiry based activities and closely observe the child’s strategies for solving problems. Begin to extend the pupil’s learning by slightly changing the task to encourage more sophisticated strategies. Always remember to encourage the pupil to articulate their thinking. You may have to model this approach initially but over time the children become used to talking about how they got their answer and the strategies they use.


East Lothian’s Revised Signposts in Number give an overview of the Guiding Principles for Learning and Teaching of Number as well as Mathematisation (the progression children follow to become secure in number). It is worthwhile spending some time looking at this and thinking about how to ensure you give the child the most appropriate activities and support to take their learning forward.

Above all, if things don’t work the first few times don’t give up trying. Some children take much longer than others to become secure in their knowledge and application of number. If you have followed the principles of assessing and observing the child’s learning, planning quality lessons and fine tuning those lessons based on you observations be confident that you are doing the right thing.