Pupils multiply their maths skills at the Number Partners Challenge 2016 Grand Final at XL Catlin 

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

NP Final Pic1

Teams of finalists waited with bated breath as the winners of the Number Partners Challenge 2016 were announced at the end of the Grand Final, hosted by global insurance company XL Catlin on Friday 27th May. Out of a record 73 participating teams from 13 Tower Hamlets schools that entered the competition in mid-April, nine teams were invited to the final. After competing in an hour-long maths challenge live at the final, the self-named ‘Hexadecagon’ team from Woolmore Primary were announced as the winners, followed by runners up ‘Beanishy Beano Returns’ from English Martyrs RC Primary.

To get to the final, pupils had to determine how many sheep and hens made up 8 heads and 22 legs, among other tricky problems, over three rounds.  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 of London.

Year 6 pupil Tahira from the winning team said her favourite part of the challenge was, “problem-solving because you have to figure things out by yourself, and also the prizes!”

One of the volunteers, Cemile Turker from Financial Conduct Authority, who is a Number Partner at Woolmore Primary said; “It’s brilliant to see the pupils working together as a team and I hope they’ll continue to do that when they go to secondary school.”

Another pupil, Morium, said about her volunteer Cemile, “she motivates us.  When she finds the answer to something she doesn’t’ tell us straight away, she’ll show us some way we can get to the answer ourselves.”

Managed by Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (THEBP), Number Partners supports 7-14 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. There are currently 450 Number Partners working in 37 primary schools throughout Tower Hamlets.

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. Becky Feetham, Senior Project Manager at Tower Hamlets EBP who started the competition said: “Our mission is to help 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.’

This year, the Number Partners Challenge is financially supported by the Ernest Cook Trust.

Buddies boosting maths skills in Bournemouth

We recently launched a partnership between J.P. Morgan and King’s Park Academy in Bournemouth. Lauren Dean, Associate Principal of the school said,

‘We are thrilled to be the first school in Dorset to benefit from this excellent programme. The children have really gelled with the volunteers during their first session and tell me they can’t wait to see them again next week to play more games.’

Read more in the Bournemouth Daily Echo: Bournemouth Echo - JP Morgan NNP March 206

#iwill: Student Volunteering Week 2016

1 impassioned student volunteer + 2 pupils lacking confidence in maths x 30 minutes per week playing games = fun with maths and improved employability for both volunteers and children.

With national Student Volunteering Week approaching, National Number Partners is delighted to launch our first two schemes with university student volunteers linking University of Wolverhampton with Loxdale Primary and at Queen Mary University with Stebon Primary near our Tower Hamlets EBP HQ in East London.


We’re building on the great work that our partners Leicestershire Cares do with Loughborough University and Ablaze Bristol do with UWE in order to engage more student volunteers nationally as Number Partners in their local primary schools.

We think students make great Number Partners, bringing their own passion and reflections on their subject choices and career choices to the table, thereby raising primary school pupils’ aspirations towards higher education and beyond.

#wewill build a world where all children have the confidence to say ‘I love maths!’

Get in touch at to get your university involved.



10 years of Number Partners in Leicestershire

Happy 10th birthday to Number Partners in Leicestershire!

Ravenhurst Primary Pupils with volunteers from Everards Brewery

Run by the business charity Leicestershire Cares in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, Number Partners has seen hundreds of volunteers from dozens of businesses volunteer with thousands of young pupils, helping boost their confidence with numeracy through playing maths games.

To mark the milestone of its first decade, a birthday cake was made for the lunchtime maths games session at Ravenhurst Primary in Braunstone Town with volunteers from Everards Brewery, one of the first firms to sign up to Number Partners back in 2006.

Says one pupil: “It’s fun. You learn to see the patterns in numbers, and at a time in the future you will know what to do.”

Read more:

The real impact of “one size fits all” on education

In light of Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw’s recent critique of the ‘one size fits all’ education system that fails to prepare young people for the world of work, Becky Feetham, Senior Project Manager at Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership who has been managing and observing Number Partners for several years, asks whether primary maths education is really preparing pupils for life.

Read her thoughts:

Lloyd’s Kent office launches Number Partners locally

Lloyds @Hilltop

Supported by independent charity Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (EBP), employees from Lloyd’s of London’s office in Chatham and Hilltop Primary School in Rochester, Kent have started an exciting new partnership. This initiative is part of Tower Hamlets EBP’s National Number Partners expansion campaign.

Gavin Evans, Headteacher at Hilltop Primary said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for pupils from the school to further develop their Mathematical ability and gain experience of working alongside ‘real’ professional adults. We are delighted to be working with Lloyd’s on this venture”.

Volunteers from across the Lloyd’s market in London already support young people with numeracy across Tower Hamlets schools as part of Lloyd’s Community Programme. Lloyd’s is delighted to expand its reach to include employees from its Chatham office in order to support young people in the Medway area.

Helen Sanson, Director at Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership, comments: “Having worked with students in Tower Hamlets for 25 years and running National Number Partners since 2004, we have a deep understanding of how to devise and deliver programmes that meet the needs of pupils and make a positive difference in their lives. The expansion of Number Partners with Lloyd’s and Hilltop Primary School will enable more young people to benefit from volunteer role models, building their confidence in and enjoyment of numeracy and inspire them to learn more, do more and become more”.

Contact us to get involved in Number Partners around the UK.

‘Dear Charlie, you are the nicest Number Partner ever!’

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 Reed volunteer

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.’

Number Partner at Hinckley’s National Grid is golden-hearted volunteer



Senior design analyst Rosie Cox at Hinckley’s National Grid has received a Golden Heart award from Leicestershire Cares in recognition of her five years of Number Partners volunteering at a Hinckley primary school.

“The main thing I have got out of Number Partners over the last five years, apart from having fun and the pleasure of giving something back, is that it has made me think more about how I explain things.”

Read more:

Strength in Numbers

Emily Keefe is an undergraduate studying Education, Mathematics and Leadership Studies in the United States. She is currently in London, interning at the Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (THEBP). Here are her reflections on taking part in some Number Partners sessions. 

Emily Keefe

Through the THEBP Number Partners programme, young people and volunteers engage in weekly sessions aimed to improve the pupils’ maths skills. Last week, I attended my first Number Partners session. Shadowing my colleague Avanti, I observed the great group dynamic and positive aura of these 30-minute lunchtime sessions. But, what reigned as an unforgettable epiphany was the undeniably positive effect of group-learning.

During the session, Avanti, myself, and two pupils played a maths-related card game. Although the game was inherently competitive, I found that the pupils’ goal was not to win. Instead, they helped one another in scoring points. In fact, they did so much as to disregard the rule of game in order to help each other understand the numbers and improve their scores. Of course, the students had no idea of their rule-breaking actions. They just chugged along, focusing on the maths of the situation.

Learning sprouts in the watering of group-work. Teachers, tutors, and volunteers need not fear the chaos affiliated with group work. Instead, group work must be embraced as a method of teaching and encouraging one another.

I look forward to my next session. The children are wonderful.