Insurance broker at Aon, Charlie Reed, volunteers as a Number Partner at Blue Gate Fields Infants School in Shadwell, East London. She has been a Number Partner ever since she joined Aon as a recent graduate five years ago.
Charlie considered teaching as a career option previously and so finds Number Partners a great way to engage with schools and young people through her workplace.
‘The two schemes I heard about at work were Reading Partners and Number Partners and, although I was never fantastic at maths, I thought Number Partners would be really interactive and it would be fun to try to make each session a bit different and come up with fun number games.’
Five years on, she still loves seeing the children flourish and improve in their confidence and ability. ‘I had one partner who struggled a bit with maths and his teacher actually came up to me to say how much his maths had improved and his level of concentration and she believed that Number Partners had really made a difference.’
Charlie loves working with young people and the feeling is mutual! The children are captivated by Charlie.
‘Even though the volunteering takes place at lunchtimes, the partners always seem so happy to see you. It doesn’t have to be like a maths lesson, I try to make it feel like we are just playing games. Last week I was really happy to have received two lovely pictures and a note from my partners with the message: ‘Dear Charlie, you are the nicest Number Partner ever!’
But being a Number Partner isn’t only fun and games, it’s personal development for volunteers too. Charlie says there is fun in the challenges.
‘Some of the partners need stretching and it can be hard to find a new activity that is suitable for them but part of the fun of being a Number Partner is discovering what activities your partners really enjoy.
Also something I learnt in the training that I try to remember every session is: if you know a quicker way of working something out, try not to show your partner your way and give them an opportunity to work it out in a way they may have been taught or that works well for them. Try to encourage your partner also to always show you how they have arrived at an answer.’
Would Charlie recommend being a Number Partner?
Absolutely! ‘Every week something memorable or funny happens that I want to go back and share with my colleagues.’