Matchmaker Joanne Hudson makes Number Partners count

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

If you are in the Leicestershire area and want to get involved, contact or get in touch with to find out more about setting up a scheme in your local area.

London Education Charity to Spearhead Numeracy Campaign in Schools Nationally

Our press release issued today

Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (EBP) addresses critical need to improve numeracy in the UK with expansion of its unique Number Partners scheme thanks to funding from Man Group

Independent charity Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership (EBP) is to extend its highly successful Number Partners scheme, designed to improve pupils’ numeracy skills, to other regions in the UK.  Number Partners has been operating in Tower Hamlets and on a smaller scale in other regions such as Leicestershire and Bristol since 2004, supporting 7 to 14 year olds with attainment, confidence and motivation in numeracy.  It pairs volunteers from the business community with pupils for half an hour each week to play number games, enabling practice and consolidation of mental maths, whilst simultaneously providing aspirational role models from the world of work.

The impact of Number Partners is demonstrated by an evaluation carried out in 2014 by the Education and Employers Taskforce, which indicated that participation in the scheme improves pupils’ chances of reaching their individual numeracy targets and improves soft outcomes, such as concentration, listening skills, verbal expression, motivation and aspirations.

Cristina King, Maths Coordinator at St Luke’s Primary School in Tower Hamlets says: “The Number Partners programme has been extremely successful in our school. The dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers has helped to hugely improve the confidence and enjoyment of pupils in maths, as well as having a positive impact on their progress in this subject.”

Man Group, one of the world’s largest independent alternative investment managers and one of Tower Hamlets EBP’s key partners, has funded a dedicated full time National Number Partners project manager post at the charity.  Avantika Taneja will fulfill this role and deliver the national campaign.  She comments: “I am immensely excited to be involved in taking the Number Partners scheme to new areas.  Having developed and delivered school-based programmes throughout my career, I am fully committed to finding innovative ways to support children and young people to reach their full potential, as learners and as citizens. Numeracy plays a crucial role in this.”

Carol Ward, from Man Group, says: “According to Department for Business, Innovation and Skills research, highlighted by National Numeracy, around 4 in 5 adults in England have a low level of numeracy, classified as having below GCSE grade C level.  We know that there is a strong link between ability and confidence in maths and future career decisions, and thus future success in the world of work.  It’s really important that we invest in supporting numeracy in schools – today’s pupils are the workforce of tomorrow.”

Helen Sanson, Director of Tower Hamlets EBP, comments: “Having been working with students in Tower Hamlets for 25 years, 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 nationally reflects our ambition to enable new communities to benefit from our work and expertise, and it is a key element in bringing to life our vision of inspiring young people to learn more, do more and become more.”

To get involved in the campaign to improve numeracy nationally, contact

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Incommunities make maths add up

West Yorkshire-based housing group, Incommunities, has linked up with a Bradford school to deliver a National Number Partners scheme through Business in the Community. Seven volunteers, including operatives and managers from the Building Services team, swap site work for class work once a week St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School.

Working alongside teaching staff, they help children who might be struggling with maths by using activities and games provided by Number Partners. One of the volunteers is plumber Nick Dine, who said:

“It’s great to spend time with the pupils and help show them that maths can be fun. We use the resources provided by Number Partners as well as examples from our work to engage with them. We want to be positive role models in their learning.”

Incommunities have a proud track record of staff volunteering and building learning partnerships with schools through a number of BITC projects, with over 20 employees volunteering in the past two years.

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Sarah Clementis, Assistant Headteacher, said:

“The pupils have really enjoyed the Number Partners work and it has really built up their confidence in maths. This confidence has been transferred into their daily maths lessons in class. As a school we are extremely grateful for the Incommunities volunteers who come in and work with our pupils.”

Geraldine Howley, Incommunities Group Chief Executive, said:

“We are committed to encouraging staff to use their skills and time through local volunteering programmes. As a socially conscious housing landlord we are keen to build links with schools in the communities we serve. Taking part in Number Partners with St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School is a rewarding experience for those staff involved and demonstrates our vision of ‘Improving lives Incommunties’.”

Thank you to Incommunities and BITC for your ongoing commitment to Number Partners! If you would like your scheme featured please get in touch on

Number Partners Volunteer Training

We are holding our first webinar training session for Number Partners volunteers on Tuesday 14th April, 12.30-1.30pm. We hope this will be especially useful for volunteers who aren’t able to attend face-to-face training, but everyone is welcome!

The webinar will be helpful for anyone who is currently volunteering, or due to begin shortly. The session will include:

Strategies to use in sessions
Behaviour and engagement
Risk and safeguarding
Getting involved

If you are interested in joining us please contact Lizzie on for the full joining instructions.

Unicornmaths Training

National Number Partners were lucky enough recently to be invited to a fantastic training session held by Sarah Wedderburn at Unicornmaths.

The day was packed full of tips, techniques and resources to make numbers come to life, with an emphasis on the psychology behind developing maths skills. There was a real focus on engaging an inspiring children who might struggle in maths, and plenty of great ideas perfect for volunteers to use during Number Partner sessions.

Sarah says “Unicornmaths believes that students who find maths difficult need to be taught using concrete resources that enable them to fully interact with their learning. This physical manipulation of resources, with the concurrent visual input and verbal explanation and encouragement of the teacher, enables pupils to fully understand and retain maths concepts. Our pupils then have to continually revisit and over-learn topics and we do this through focused games as this provides practice without stress. For pupils who are failing, having fun with maths is a vital part of enabling success.

Resources and games are downloadable from the Unicornmaths Website.

In the spotlight: Lloyd’s of London and Globe Primary School

Globe Primary School in Tower Hamlets has been taking part in Number Partners for many years, supported by a committed group of volunteers from the Lloyd’s of London Insurance Market.

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At the beginning of this term they provided brand new games for the children they work with. Read the full story in the East London Advertiser to find out what the verdict was!

The new games were purchased from The Maths Zone.

Number Partners Featured in Japanese Press

The reputation of the National Number Partners scheme is spreading far and wide – even to Japan – where it has recently featured in a daily newspaper. Miyazaki Nichinichi Shimbun is published on the island of Kyushu. One of its journalists, Yurie Baba, had heard about the success of Number Partners and contacted Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership with a request to interview Primary Programme Manager, Becky Feetham, as part of a series of articles the paper has featured on child poverty in Japan. Becky said: “She came with a translator and asked lots about Number Partners and our other volunteer schemes too – how it works, how we recruit and train volunteers, how we grew the scheme to a national level. She also sought advice on how they could set it up in Japan.”


The article has now been published, and describes what Number Partners seeks to do and how it works for business volunteers. It also mentions the contribution the scheme makes to improved confidence and success with numeracy. We now wait to hear news of our first Number Partner scheme in the Land of the Rising Sun!

If you’ve recently started taking part in Number Partners, please contact us at and let us know how you’re getting on.

Bring A Colleague Week

If you’re looking for a way of increasing volunteer involvement in your Number Partner scheme, why not hold a ‘Bring A Colleague’ week? This is an opportunity to inspire other staff members to visit your partner school and see first-hand what being a Number Partner is all about.

How it works

– Coordinators ask their current volunteers to nominate a colleague to join them for one session – check with your school coordinator that they can accommodate extra adults on this occasion.

– As this is a one-off opportunity, visiting colleagues will not require a DBS check. We do suggest asking new volunteers to register, so you can provide a list of names for the school in advance.

– Visitors will work in pairs with current volunteers, so you will not need to involve more pupils at this stage. You can use the usual games or resources from the Number Partners – Bring A Colleague Pack.

– We do not expect the event to create lots of additional work for school staff, but it would be beneficial if the school coordinator could meet the volunteers on the day and talk briefly about the impact, and progress students make throughout the year.

– After the event, volunteer coordinators should ensure that any new recruits complete training and receive full DBS clearance before committing to volunteer on regular basis.

New Volunteer Tool Kit

Number Partners started life in Tower Hamlets, London’s most deprived borough. There are now more than 450 Number Partners volunteering in the borough, supported by Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership. Developed from teacher and volunteer feedback, they have produced a ‘Volunteer Tool Kit’ designed to be used at the start of the academic year. The tool kit includes ice breakers, warm downs and actitivites to help get to know your pupil, and stretch them as the weeks go by. It can be downloaded from Tower Hamlets EBP here.

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