The Government's favourite consultants have agreed to visit primary maths lessons to help raise standards.
Coopers amp; Lybrand is sending 60 staff into schools for a year to support an experiment in whole-class maths teaching. Consultants will become supplementary teachers for up to 40 minutes a week helping struggling pupils.
They will be taking part in Exeter University's mathematics enhancement project which aims to foster whole-class interactive approaches. These are used in Europe and are backed by the Government's numeracy task force.
The project is already running in 100 secondary schools, extending to almost 40 of their feeder primaries from September.
Coopers' volunteers will target primary schools in Cheddar, south Manchester and Birmingham.
Company chairman Peter Smith said: "It is often too late by the time children reach secondary school to counter fully the shortfall in their numeracy skills. Having seen the project's achievements in rectifying these problems at secondary level we felt it was important to make the benefits of the programme available to children at a much earlier age."
Volunteers will be trained to work with teachers and the programme will be evaluated.
Professor David Burghes, who leads the project, said: "We only expect people to volunteer who are confident about their maths and have a maths-based degree. Each of the volunteers will be vetted.
"In the first year they will work as helpers but towards the end of the year I would hope they will become pro-active."
Dr Tony Gardiner, past president of the Mathematical Association, remains sceptical. "You're unlikely to solve primary maths problems by wheeling out university maths graduates. The idea that numerate accountants would do any better strikes me as a little weird."