Count on having fun

14th May 2004 at 01:00
In a courtyard, under the shade of a hornbeam tree, pupils from the Royal United Hospital School in Bath are catching and throwing, running relays and discovering orienteering skills. They are taking part in the school's numeracy week. As well as improving their general fitness, co-ordination and strength, the pupils, aged four to 11, are honing their numeracy skills. "We have done arts weeks and activity weeks in the past," explains headteacher Linda Harris, "and we wanted to give them an equitable experience of maths."

The regular timetable was put on hold for a week and the staff, led by senior teacher and maths co-ordinator Rosemary Bird, concocted a busy week that included creating and road-testing number games, making photo jigsaws, model-making, a penny trail to raise money for an African school, building and measuring a model giant, making tiles to tessellate, and weighing and making food and drinks before selling it in the temporary No 1 cafe.

For the activity day she called on the expertise of Andy Fenton, a former primary teacher who runs his own sports consultancy business, The Sportz Coach. Not only did he have to find activities that would fit in with the numeracy theme, he had to ensure they would be suitable or easily adaptable for each of the school's 20 children, all of whom have physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

"We asked Andy to organise something with a maths flavour - particularly with a focus on timing and games involving counting. He came with activities that could be fitted to individual children," says Rosemary Bird.

Sessions incorporating number dances, relay races (on foot and in wheelchairs), target practice, boccia, obstacle courses, volleyball and orienteering helped to develop skills involving counting, keeping score, measuring and time-keeping. As well as encouraging an active understanding of numbers, shape and space, weighing and measuring and money work, Rosemary Bird says the week enabled pupils to see the subject in a new light. "They were very enthusiastic because we made it fun."

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