Pupils play darts to raise their numeracy game

The punters sit around the dart- board. As the first player steps up, there are cheers and some good-natured banter. If he misses, there will be no outcry, no muttered expletives. And the only drink being served here is milk.

These players are all pupils at Tithe Barn primary, in Stockport, and the game is part of their maths lesson. The primary school version of the game was designed by Steve Mottershead, agent of Phil Taylor, 13 times world darts champion.

Mr Mottershead realised that darts could help schools to hit their numeracy targets when he noticed his own maths skills had improved as he began calling scores in professional games.

"Darts is not what it used to be," he said. "It's a young person's sport.

It's very razzmatazz, quite showbiz now. So it's an extremely good learning tool. And if children are enjoying themselves as they learn, they'll learn more."

He approached Tim Buckley, head of Tithe Barn, and together they began to develop a child-friendly version of the game. In the past, college tutors have used darts to raise mathematical awareness among pub-going adults.

Mr Mottershead's board is customised for younger players, with magnetic darts and a detachable bull's eye. What is inserted into this bull's eye determines the rules. If a plus sign is used, pupils must add together the numbers they hit. Equally, minus, multiplication or division symbols determine the action performed. And if a number is placed in the middle, children must complete a calculation using both that number and the number they hit with the dart. "It is limitless what you can do," said Mr Buckley.

"It is as creative as the teacher using it."

Mr Buckley has also developed a literacy version of the board, using letters in place of numbers. Children with good hand-eye co-ordination are paired up with those who know their tables or their letters.

"They're using a range of skills," said Mr Buckley. "It's competitive, but not pure academic competitiveness."

For more information, email: steve.mottershead@ntlworld.com

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