FOOTBALLstars Alan Shearer and David Beckham could hold the answer to pupils' maths problems thanks to the launch of a special schools' version of Fantasy Football to boost numeracy skills.
Ministers are considering including the proposed league in Maths Year 2000, their numeracy initiative which aims to make mathematics fun.
A version of the game has been tailored for schools by Fantasy League, the company which created the popular newspaper game and inspired the hit television show. It gives pupils the chance to manage an imaginary team, while improving their maths.
Pupils will spend fictitious millions on star players and chart their team's progress. But teachers will also be encouraged to plan lessons based on the league.
Ministers, celebrities and teachers will be asked to pick teams after a trial showed that pupils benefited most when there were adults to beat.
Under the rules, each pupil has an imaginary pound;50 million to spend on players who score points according to their real-life performance. Pupils calculate their scores and receive weekly reports from the company on both their team's score and their maths.
A season's transactions will be supported by worksheets on league-based maths, for example, which player won the most points, what percentage of the budget was spent on strikers.
A Department for Education and Employment spokesman said: "Fantasy Football seems like a good opportunity to make mathematics fun."
Charles Marks of Fantasy League said: "The game takes the most talked-about subject in the playground, and turns it into a fun teaching tool. " Gary Pettecrew, who co-ordinated a pilot game in Offerton high school in Stockport, said: "Staff and pupils have enjoyed the weekly thrill of finding out how well they have fared.
"Few school activities can offer such great rewards for what actually amounts to very little trouble."
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