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 email@example.com to get your university involved.
Happy 10th birthday to Number Partners in Leicestershire!
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.”
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.
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.
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.’
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.”
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.
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.
Schools Week announces that we are going national! http://schoolsweek.co.uk/getting-the-numbers-right/
Joanne Hudson is the dedicated Number Partners Coordinator at Leicestershire Cares that have been running Number Partners for nine years in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Joanne is the matchmaker introducing schools and businesses and setting them up on what she calls ‘blind dates.’ Like dating, there’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and first, but eventually sparks always fly!
As one teacher said, ‘children are now flying high, taking ownership and working more independently’. Teachers and school staff feel that 93% of pupils have made progress due to direct one to one support from their Number Partner. Each pupil has advanced in their learning journey to further their love for maths – because, after all, love is what dating is all about!
In the 2014-2015 academic year alone, Joanne and Leicestershire Cares have engaged 167 business and student volunteers and matched them with approximately 650 children in 34 schools. Volunteers build their confidence and motivation in the subject by playing maths games once a week during lunchtime. Like any good matchmaker, Joanne selects schools carefully, looking for those that would benefit most from numeracy volunteering and that are within a short distance from the businesses involved.
Joanne has pioneered a student-led model of Number Partners with Loughborough University and Beauchamp College. She holds a ‘speed-dating’ session to select one seasoned student volunteer to lead and coordinate the group of students, who are asked to commit 15 ‘magic hours’ per year to the scheme.
Why ‘magic hours?’ Because, as Joanne says, ‘what we are doing with Number Partners is like waving a magic wand – volunteers are a lifeline to many children involved.’
Hearing about the great success of the schemes in Leicestershire, it seems that Joanne is the one waving the magic wand. Joanne Hudson and Number Partners: it’s a match made in heaven.
To read more about the impact of the Number Partners scheme in Leicestershire, visit http://www.leicestershirecares.co.uk/blog/education-year-end-reports/
If you are in the Leicestershire area and want to get involved, contact Jo@leicestershirecares.co.uk or get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about setting up a scheme in your local area.