The Numeracy Challenge 2019

Thursday 4th April was an exciting day for the maths geniuses of Tower Hamlets and saw THEBP hold their annual Numeracy Challenge at the Man Group Investment offices. In preparation for this final, fifty teams of brilliant minds were given the critical mission of working as Number Detectives to help solve the whereabouts of five mystery items stolen from Man Group, discovering vital information with each new round of challenges throughout this exciting adventure. Competition was fierce and impressive, with ten teams out of the original fifty having made it to the final and becoming even closer to discovering the truth. After competing in a three hour-long maths challenge live at the final, the ‘Canberra Boy’s from Manorfield Primary School successfully completed their mission as the winners of the competition, followed by runners up ‘St Luke’s Superstars’ from St Luke’s Primary School  and  ‘÷ and Conquer’ from ‘Sir William Burrough School’. Well done detectives!


The Numeracy Challenge is part of the Numbers Partners programme, managed by Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (THEBP). The scheme pairs volunteers from the business community with 7-11 year old pupils for half an hour per week to play fun maths games, whilst simultaneously bringing young people into contact with role models from the world of work.EBP190404-067 EBP190404-086 EBP190404-125 EBP190404-160 (1)

Pupils get their maths brains in shape at the Numeracy Challenge 2018 Grand Final at Markel

Top scoring maths teams from Tower Hamlets primary schools battled in the Walkie Talkie building on Friday 25th May, to win the final round of Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership’s sixth annual Numeracy Challenge final.

The crowned winners, ‘Mathsketeers’ from Thomas Buxton Primary School.

The crowned winners, ‘Mathsketeers’ from Thomas Buxton Primary School.

Teams of finalists waited with bated breath as the winners of the Numeracy Challenge 2018 were announced at the end of the Grand Final.


After competing in a two hour-long maths challenge live at the final, the self-named ‘The Mathsketeers’ team from Thomas Buxton primary School were announced as the winners, followed by runners up ‘Maths Brains’ from Stewart Headlam Primary.


The final was hosted by international insurance company Markel International on Friday 25th May at their offices in the famous Walkie Talkie building in the heart of the City.


Out of 36 participating teams from 14 Tower Hamlets schools that entered the competition in March, eight teams were invited to the final.


All the finalists will be rewarded with a trip to Brighton’s University of Sussex in June to find out what it’s like to be a student at a top university outside London and how maths is applied across all disciplines.


A year 5 from the winning team said that being crowned described the final as the “best day ever”. She enjoyed “working as a team and competing against other people”.


Andrew Green, head of Catastophe Management at Markel, coached the winning team in his voluntary role as a Number Partner at Thomas Buxton Primary School. He said “They challenge us more than we challenge them so it’s really good fun.”

Andrew Green, a volunteer from Markel, encourages a competitor from Thomas Buxton Primary School.

Andrew Green, a volunteer from Markel, encourages a competitor from Thomas Buxton Primary School.

A year six member of the ‘Maths Brains’ team reflected on the final round: “Some problems were hard and some were easy. There were a mixed variety of problems and you had to use logic.”


Michael McCarthy, the school’s maths coordinator, added: It brings out different skills. Some children would be better at the numerical aspect and some are better at the explanations. They draw on each other’s skills to get the best solution to the problem.”


The Numeracy Challenge is part of the Numbers Partners programme, managed by Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (THEBP). The scheme pairs volunteers from the business community with 7-11 year old pupils for half an hour per week to play fun maths games, whilst simultaneously bringing young people into contact with role models from the world of work.


In 1997 only half of children in Tower Hamlets achieved a level four, the minimum expected level in maths, when they left primary school. Twenty years later this trend has reversed. 81% of children in Tower Hamlets now achieve or exceed the expected standard, surpassing the National average of 75%.


Number Partners gives children individualised support to help children achieve their potential and have the confidence to say “I love maths!”


In the Numeracy Challenge, volunteers help pupils to form teams and complete three rounds of stretching maths-related challenges, using problem-solving, logic and teamwork.

Marion Richardson Primary School working hard on one of the Numeracy Challenge's toughest tasks.

Marion Richardson Primary School working hard on one of the Numeracy Challenge’s toughest tasks.

David Sawyer, Managing Director at Markel, said: “It’s good to give something back to the local community. It’s good to get the children’s enthusiasm [for] maths. There’s nothing better than working with children, seeing them smiling and getting them learning.”

Gallagher volunteers help primary school pupils boost brain power in Wales

Pupils from Pontyclun Primary School have boosted their maths skills and gained new confidence in numeracy by buddying up with volunteers from Arthur J. Gallagher’s team in Llantrisant for a 10-week scheme.


Gallagher volunteers in Wales

The team of eight enthusiastic volunteers travelled to the school each week to undertake one-to-one sessions with pupils. Together they played educational and interactive games designed to build confidence, numeracy skills, concentration and verbal expression as part of the National Number Partners programme, which supports seven to 14-year olds across the UK. The Gallagher scheme was the first Number Partners programme to take place in Wales, but follows successful programmes run by Gallagher volunteers in both London and Bournemouth.

Bethan Davies, teacher at Pontyclun Primary School, emphasised the positive impact the initiative has had on the children: “Each pupil was selected for a different reason, but the commonality between all of them was their dislike and lack of confidence in maths. The volunteers were fantastic with their paired pupils, and it was lovely to see not only the pupils’ confidence and ability growing, but also the relationships and rapport with the volunteers who all brought bags of enthusiasm on every visit. The pupils absolutely loved it.”

And it wasn’t only the children that gained a lot from the initiative — as Emily Cronin, one of the eight-strong team of volunteers from Arthur J. Gallagher, explains: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering as a number partner and the time we’d spend with the pupils became the highlight of my week. To be able to help these children not only improve their maths skills but also see them develop their self-confidence and find their voice in group games was truly rewarding. I have learnt new skills by taking part and am thankful for the opportunity.”

Avantika Taneja, project manager for numeracy and financial literacy at Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership, which runs Numbers Partners, added: “It’s great to see the team from Gallagher Wales continuing the already-established tradition of Gallagher volunteering for Number Partners in other areas of the UK, forming a new and reciprocal relationship with Pontyclun Primary School to boost children’s motivation in numeracy and expose them to adults in the world of work.

“From the outset, it was clear that the volunteers already had strong local ties, with one of them having attended the primary school as a child. While the initial volunteer training revealed a few adults to be slightly anxious about the maths methods currently used in schools, the scheme quickly evolved to smiles and sums on both sides of the equation — with both volunteers and children growing in confidence and forming lovely relationships built around making maths fun. We are delighted that the committed Gallagher volunteers have made our first scheme in Wales such a success, and we hope it paves the way for other schools and businesses to get involved.”

Arthur J. Gallagher actively encourages its employees to participate in volunteering within the local communities they support, with employees able to take up to three paid working days each year. In Wales it employs 150 people across five offices, the largest being its Llantrisant centre of excellence in the heart of the country.

The headline numbers from the flagship Number Partners programme in Leicestershire

Our friends at Leicestershire Cares have achieved dizzying new heights in supporting children’s numeracy and aspirations in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland this year, under the leadership of Joanne Hudson, Number Partners Coordinator.

Joanne says: ‘This year has seen fabulous developments with the team approach to volunteering in schools. With thorough team training, in depth inductions and impeccable communication between colleagues, volunteers provide seamless support to pupils. They add value with their wealth of experience, give alternatives to prescriptive methods, bring humour and inspiration with their diverse personalities, outlook, backgrounds & culture, while ensuring that their engagement in Number Partners doesn’t affect the productivity of their business.’

200 volunteers have been involved in the project, with the highest number of member company volunteers taking part since its inception in 2006. Our incredible team of trained volunteers have supported approximately 605 children in 40 schools, with some schools receiving support from both corporate and student volunteers.

leicestershire cares

Some highlights:

  • Coordinators felt that 98% of pupils had made progress due to direct support from a Number Partner volunteer.
  • 95% of pupils increased their self-esteem & self-confidence as a direct result of the sessions.
  • 97% of pupils felt that Number Partner volunteers had helped them with their progress.
  • 60% of children made good progress and 28% made excellent progress  during the year.
  • 98% of volunteers rated the project as excellent or good and 92% of volunteers would highly recommend the activity to their work colleagues.
  • 100% of volunteers felt they had developed professionally from Number Partners and the skills most commonly developed were coaching and mentoring, motivating others, listening and communication skills and  self-confidence.

For the full report, see:

Pupils get their maths brains in shape at the Number Partners Challenge 2017 Grand Final at Alesco RMS 

Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership hosted its fifth annual Number Partners Challenge final where top scoring teams from across the borough competed against each other on their hardest maths challenge yet.


Teams of finalists waited with bated breath as the winners of the Number Partners Challenge 2017 were announced at the end of the Grand Final, hosted by global insurance broker Alesco Risk Management Services (Alesco) on Wednesday 24th May at their offices in the heart of the City on Lombard Street. Out of 66 participating teams from a record 16 Tower Hamlets schools that entered the competition in March, eight teams were invited to the final. After competing in a two hour-long maths challenge live at the final, the self-named ‘Brainiacs’ team from Sir William Burrough Primary were announced as the winners, followed by runners up ‘Three Shooting Stars’ from Woolmore Primary, the school with the winning team last year. To get through to the final, pupils had to work with shapes and nets, using their spatial reasoning.

The finalist teams were also invited to visit Brighton University of Sussex on Wednesday, 7 June. Pupils found out more about what it is like to be a student at a top university outside of London. They also explored how maths is applied across different disciplines, such as economics and psychology degrees. Two of these teams also hosted Student Ambassadors from the University at follow up assemblies at their schools.

Year 6 pupil Mehzabin from the winning team said that being crowned “felt great, amazing and a little unbelievable because the last round threw us off and we were all nervous”.
Their teacher, Anthony Wilson, said, “It’s about going out and using maths and knowing it’s value. I also think the opportunity for children to visit a university makes the possibility of higher education feel more within the grasp of these children.”
Another pupil, Yamin, said “without my teammates I wouldn’t be here…we corrected each other and did backup calculations for each other.”

Managed by Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (THEBP), Number Partners supports 7-11 year olds with attainment, confidence and motivation in numeracy. The scheme pairs volunteers from the business community with pupils for half an hour per week to play fun maths games, whilst simultaneously bringing young people into contact with role models from the world of work.

Andrea Day, associate at Alesco, said: “Having thoroughly enjoyed helping local school pupils improve their numeracy skills and confidence through the Tower Hamlets Number Partners scheme, we were absolutely delighted to host the Challenge Grand Final. Well done to the winning team from Sir William Burrough Primary but also to all those who made the final. Problem-solving, especially though team work, is such an important life skill to learn, so every finalist should be proud of their achievement but also excited about all the opportunities they are creating for themselves through developing these skills.”

The annual Number Partners Challenge takes the partnership further, with pupils and volunteers forming teams to complete three rounds of stretching maths-related challenges, using their problem-solving, logic and teamwork. Number Partners helps students to learn more, do more, and become more, and numeracy is a critical life skill within this aim.  Number Partners business volunteers make maths fun for pupils and gives them insight into how it can help them in later life.

You can also read local press coverage here-

An American in Tower Hamlets

As a part of my American overseas program, I had the privilege of working with THEBP on numerous volunteer schemes from within the Curriculum Team. I edited and organised various activities for Abacus and BEE, two multi-session programmes that familiarise primary school children with financial terminology (i.e. tax, interest, debit, credit, loans) and the world of work. Some activities I put together include a matching game about needs versus wants, a money word search, a bartering activity with products for currency and a budgeting game with pasta shells.

These were also my favourite programmes to attend because they were long-term, which provided the opportunity to work with the same group of pupils over an extended duration of time on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. This allows volunteers to develop a rapport with the pupils, which helps students trust volunteers and feel more comfortable sharing ideas and insight. As opposed to a programme where volunteers only work with a small group of pupils for a few hours and likely never see them again, the long-term programmes provide volunteers with the chance to share experiences and knowledge with the entire class through rotating to different small groups in every session. Not only does this allow volunteers to figure out which pupils need extra support and watch them grow, but it also eliminates the excess time spent on introductions of volunteers and adjustment on the pupils’ end.Hanna - H2H4 (003)

Another programme that achieves this is called the NumberPartners Challenge, where pupils compete in groups of two to four with a business volunteer in three rounds of math problems with a half hour for each round, to make it to the final round. I designed the final round of the 2017 Number Partners Challenge after researching maths anxiety to better understand the need for programmes such as Number Partners in primary schools to combat the onset of maths anxiety prior to the start of secondary school. As a maths major in university, I thoroughly enjoyed this and learned a lot about maths curriculum in secondary school and the process of curriculum being designed, presented, improved and implemented.

Additionally, I have helped to facilitate workshops focused on banking, apprenticeships and public speaking with the Enterprise Skills and Financial Literacy Team at various secondary schools. Not only has this helped me understand the community that THEBP serves and its wide range of aspirations, but it has also taught me about the UK education system and the business world as a whole. The experiences that I have had in the past three months have been immensely valuable in improving my confidence, public speaking, conflict management and networking abilities. I can honestly say that as a student, an intern and a volunteer, I have applied THEBP’s mission statement to my own life: learn more, do more, become more.

July 2016 Volunteer of the Month in Tower Hamlets is a Number Partner

This month’s winner is…

Sabrina Law PhotoSabrina Law from the Financial Conduct Authority, who currently coordinates the Number Partners Scheme at Woolmore Primary School, attending the majority of the sessions within the school year. She has previously taken part in other schemes, facilitating mock interview workshops in East London. Additionally, as a student, Sabrina worked with children who had behavioural disorders, providing recreational activities and a programme to develop their ability to integrate with their peer groups.

About her volunteering on the Number Partners Scheme, Sabrina says: “I decided to volunteer as not only do I enjoy working with children but I had helped my younger sister with her maths in primary and secondary school and this stemmed my interest in teaching maths on a wider scale. When I heard about the scheme through an internal recruitment drive I instantly signed up and within a year was co-ordinating the scheme.”

Sabrina finds the scheme to be a very rewarding experience – not only is it nice to see the children improving in their maths and thoroughly enjoying the sessions, she says it also takes her away from the desk, enabling her to take part in something that she enjoys whilst also giving back to the Community.

She finds that the highlight of working with the children is their enthusiasm when entering the various competitions that THEBP have put on. The children worked very hard on their entries and their hard work paid off as for two years in a row Woolmore Primary Schools students have won the Number Partners Challenge and the Tower Hamlets Video Competition.

Sabrina says: “I am extremely proud of the children and witnessing them winning year on year shows that hard work truly pays off.”

Arthur J. Gallagher team members in Bournemouth make volunteering count at Bethany Junior


PUPILS from Bournemouth’s Bethany Junior School have buddied-up with team members from Arthur J. Gallagher to boost their maths skills.

The new relationship, one of the first of its kind in Dorset, is part of the National Number Partners programme which has been operating in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets since 2004, and supports seven to 14 year olds with motivation, confidence and attainment in numeracy.

Sixteen Year 3 and 4 Bethany pupils have been paired with 8 volunteers from Arthur J. Gallagher and will spend half an hour a week playing fun number games together.  Volunteers from Arthur J. Gallagher’s headquarters in London already support young people in Tower Hamlets schools via the Lloyd’s Community Programme.

Recently named as one of the world’s most ethical companies for the fifth year running, Arthur J. Gallagher, a global leader in insurance brokerage and risk management, is an organisation with social responsibility at its heart.

Hugo Rowland-Hill, Marketing Executive and community champion at the company said: “Number Partners struck a chord with our teams.  We can see the impact it is having in other parts of the country and were keen to bring it to our local community here in Bournemouth. Through our matched giving scheme at Gallagher, we are able to donate money to the charities we are supporting in addition to volunteering hours. We hope the relationship with the school is long lasting and that volunteers and children continue to look forward to weekly visits.”


Steve Cottrell, acting Headteacher of Bethany CE Junior School, said “As a school we are always looking for ways to link with local businesses, and as maths is a key focus of our development plan, this seemed like a great opportunity. The children have found the experience of Number Partners exciting and engaging. The focused activities and games promote key numeracy skills that are vital to helping our children progress. We look forward to continuing with the Number Partners programme into the future and would like to thank the team at Gallagher for their enthusiasm for this project.”

On 11th July, pupils are invited to celebrate the partnership with a visit to the company offices in the Abbey Life Building.  They will tour the building, attend a maths-themed board meeting and have lunch in the café to experience what it’s like to be an adult in the workplace and how maths can be applied to many careers.