Don't be scared, it's only maths;Maths Year 2000

1st October 1999 at 01:00
Mental arithmetic can be fun, honest. Linda Davies explains how

Last year North West London Education Business Partnership was fortunate to get a secondee from Business in the Community. Seema Gupta arrived from the Association of British Insurers and was charged with researching and piloting materials for business volunteers in our upcoming Maths Year 2000.

Unlike reading, number is a more difficult skill to promote with volunteers. There is a reluctance and lack of confidence that had not been evident when we recruited for our Reading Partners scheme during the Year of Reading. Therefore it was important that the resources were simple and fun, yet with an element of progression so that volunteers could see pupils improving.

Seema introduced us to the American-devised 24 Game which helps develop mental maths by using cards of four single-digit numbers which have to be added, subtracted, multiplied andor divided to produce an answer of 24. The cards can be used by individuals or teams and are graded for difficulty so that pupils are always challenged.

Cathy Veale, deputy head at Whitefriars First amp; Middle School in Wealdstone, piloted the game this summer. "It teaches children that maths is a positive thing and to express how they solved the problems, once they get over the excitement of getting the answer," she says.

One of the business volunteers on the pilot scheme, Gary Brown, from the North West London Training and Enterprise Council, was delighted to be involved.

"You don't need to be a maths prodigy to take part. They are just basic skills which you need anyway," he says. Azsneh Lotfizadeh, aged 10, also enjoyed Gary's classes: "It's challenging and I like it because we help each other work out the answers."

Following publicity in the local newspaper, a number of volunteers came forward. We held a training event and are now matching volunteers with local schools in the Brent and Harrow area. We learned some valuable lessons from the pilot scheme held in St Marys School, Kilburn, Gladstone Park School, Dollis Hill and Whitefriars Middle School, Harrow that we will incorporate before we launch Number Partners to other schools during Maths Year 2000.

* Volunteers need training before they work with pupils * Some 8-year-olds found the 24 Game too difficult so a primer may be needed * Strategies are needed to ensure all pupils remain engaged in the activity * The children enjoy the competitive nature of the game.

For further information contact: Linda Davies EBP Manager, NWLTEC Tel: 0181 901 5167


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