Mathematics Challenge Day at Portsmouth High School

‘Mathematics – it is a pleasure to open their minds’ says Portsmouth High School’s Head of Mathematics

Portsmouth High School hosted fourteen local primary and junior schools for a Mathematics Challenge Day.

The day was led by Portsmouth High School’s Head of Mathematics, Ms Roisin Egan and two volunteers from the UK Mathematics Trust, Mrs Susan Essex and Mrs Ann Ault.

The schools taking part were: Highbury Primary, Hook and Warsash Primary, Mengham Juniors, Meon Juniors, Mill Rythe Juniors, Milton Park Primary, Northern Parade Juniors, Oakwood School, Portsmouth High School Juniors, Stamshaw Juniors, St Jude’s Primary, St Swithun’s Primary, St Thomas More’s Primary and Wimborne Juniors.

The girls from Years 5 and 6 were challenged to some stretching mathematics challenges covering numeracy and shape and space activities including group rounds where they had to collaboratively answer questions and shuttle rounds where basic algebra was required.

‘This is the third year we have run the event’ said Roisin Egan.  ‘It is so good to see all these girls taking the lead in interesting mathematics.  It is a real pleasure to open their minds to new ways of seeing a subject that is too often dismissed as just sums.’

Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, said this week; ‘the data produced this week by the consultancy London Economics showed the importance of encouraging female pupils to take STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics as a means of closing the gender pay gap. Girls who take just one STEM A-level will see their wages rise by as much as £4,500 a year on average, while those who sit two mathematics or science subjects are predicted to experience a pay boost of 33.1 per cent.’

Kira Fox, 10, from Stamshaw Junior School said: ‘This is a great way of learning maths.  Maths has lots of patterns – even the 9 x table has a pattern and a day like today brings out our team work and creative side too.’

Bethany Scanlan, 11, from Mengham Juniors added: ‘It has made us build up our speed and work as a team.  It is a really fun way of learning.’

Mrs Anderson from Milton Park Primary said: ‘It is brilliant to see girls really enjoying mathematics and being involved.  The girls are very different when boys aren’t around; they feel more compelled to challenge themselves.’

Mrs Susan Essex from the UK Mathematics Trust said: ’It is very exciting and stimulating being in a room full of girls having fun with mathematics.  What is also enjoyable is seeing the teachers also having a go at the challenges that have been set.’

The day finished with a Masterclass on tessellation (tiling using angles, shapes and symmetry) followed by a running relay with mathematics questions at either end.

The winning team was Northern Parade who will be presented with a trophy in a school assembly in a few weeks’ time.