2009 Liz Ahrends award : Maths resources by Janette Matthews

Numeracy Resources for students with SpLD

Janette Matthews used her  Liz Ahrends Award in 2009 to develop resources that may be used for students with SpLDs such as dyslexia and dyscalculia. The resources have been created in separate PowerPoint presentations and are designed for use by support tutors. The intention was that the presentations or individual slides may be tailored and adapted for students or used as inspiration to make physical resources. As such they been released under Creative Common licence BY-ND-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ ) which allows for non-commercial use and modification with attribution.

Topics covered relate to general numeracy such as decimals, fractions, percentages, rounding, averages and equations. There are also some general topics such as working with tables.

A common approach may be adopted for working with students with SpLDs whatever the topic area including mathematics. The same ethos and ideas may be used including multi-sensory resources to explain concepts and relationships and to enable practice and over learning.

When developing resources specifically for mathematics, the following may be considered:

  • Resources work best when they explain one concept at a time.
  • There is a language of mathematics which may help or hinder students. An example is “average” used in “average prices”. This is also known as the “mean”. The word “mean” in a different context may be used to indicate a unpleasant person and, as a verb, to indicate the sense of something. This vocabulary may add to confusion for students but may also be used as a handle for assisting recall eg an image of a mean person may aid the recall of how to calculate the mean.
  • The notation used in mathematics may also contribute difficulties. An example is multiplication where the multiplication symbol is often denoted as „x‟. Students may come across a dot as the symbol for multiplication or it may be omitted altogether in algebra.
  • The context for mathematics is very useful to aid students‟ understanding. For example, when explaining how to calculate “areas” students of sport may find it easier to identify with the resurfacing a tennis court or a football pitch, fashion students with fabric and civil engineers with walls and floors. Images of the context may help with recall.

Janette thanks ADSHE for this award and her colleagues in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University and the students she worked with for their enthusiasm and generous sharing of ideas.

Resources: (PowerPoint files)




Percentage no calculator

Decimals & percentages

Fractions & percentages


Solving equations

Using EXCEL Spreadsheets


Simplifying fractions



VAT no calculator



If you have any queries in using these resources, please contact me.

Janette Matthews  J.Matthews@lboro.ac.uk

  • Archives