Maths challenge by Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership all adds up to a win for Thomas Buxton School

Getting to grips with numbers... children in schools in London's East End where numeracy rates have

Getting to grips with numbers... children in schools in London's East End where numeracy rates have improved over 20 years. Picture source: THEBP - Credit: THEBP

Children got their sums right in a gruelling two-hour grand final challenge to Tower Hamlets primary schools to win their sixth annual numeracy contest.

Winners of the ‘2018 Numeracy Challenge’ were the self-named ‘Mathsketeers’ from Thomas Buxton school in Spitalfields after a tortuous two-hour face-off.

They beat the ‘Maths Brains’ team from Stewart Headlam in Whitechapel in a close call in Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership’s annual numbers challenge.

The grand final was held on Friday at Markel International insurance company’s offices at the famous Walkie Talkie skyscraper in the City, with eight finalist teams out of 36 competing from 14 schools that had entered the competition in March.

Andrew Green, from Markel insurance, coached the winning team in his voluntary role as a ‘numbers partner’ at Thomas Buxton Primary. He said: “They challenge us more than we challenge them.”

All the finalists get a day trip to Brighton next month to find out what it’s like to be a student outside London on a tour of the University of Sussex.

Stewart Headlam school’s maths coordinator Michael McCarthy said: “Some children are better at numbers and some better at explanations—they draw on each other’s skills to get the best solution to a problem.”

The annual contest is part of the Education Business Partnership organisation’s Numbers Partners programme which pairs volunteers from business with pupils aged seven to 11 for half-an-hour a week to play fun maths games. It brings youngsters into contact with role models from the world of work.

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Volunteers help pupils form teams and complete three rounds of stretching challenges, using problem-solving, logic and teamwork.

Only half of children in Tower Hamlets in 1997 achieved a level 4 minimum in maths when they left primary school. But two decades on, the ratio has risen to eight out of 10—now even better than the national average.