by Mr Davies
One of the most rewarding parts of my job as a maths teacher is watching students prepare for and participate in the various Maths Challenges that take place throughout the academic year.
Having coordinated the Maths Challenge competitions at Bassaleg School for the last two years, I felt it was time to write this blog. Why? Mainly – to celebrate the successes of our fantastic mathematicians!
So, what is a Maths Challenge?
Each year, we enter students to sit the UKMT Mathematics Challenges. The UKMT (United Kingdom Mathematics Trust) is a national charitable organisation that was founded in 1996. Their headline aim is to “to advance the education of young people in mathematics” by organising and promoting enrichment events involving problem solving and team work. Papers are completed with no calculator, no measuring equipment – just a pencil, some paper and 5 possible answers to choose from.
There is no doubt that the Maths Challenges are aimed at high-attaining mathematicians – the competitions are designed to stretch the most able mathematicians across the country. But in our opinion – a good work ethic, willingness to take on a challenge and a positive bond with mathematics are equally important attributes.
The 3 main Maths Challenges throughout an academic year are:
Senior Maths Challenge (SMC) – aimed at Sixth Formers and selected high attaining students in Years 10 and 11.
Intermediate Maths Challenge (IMC) – aimed at students in Years 9, 10 and 11.
Junior Maths Challenge (JMC) – aimed at students in Years 7 and 8.
So far this year, students have taken part in the intermediate challenge in February. I am proud to say that we had over 30 participants for this challenge, all achieving excellent scores and some gaining outstanding scores. I hope to see these numbers increase in the coming years. These fantastic numbers are down to our current cohort of students showing huge levels of determination and perseverance, and these stats are a credit to them!
The Junior Maths Challenge takes place later this year on 26th and 27th of April.
How do the results work?
In each Maths Challenge, students are competing to obtain a Gold, Silver or Bronze certificate.
It is worth stressing that at Bassaleg, we are not solely focussed on ‘who did the best’ – it is an achievement in itself to take part. In our eyes, a successful challenge is one where a group of determined and enthusiastic students push themselves with some challenging mathematics.
In the most recent competition (the Intermediate Maths Challenge) 52% of students that participated scored high enough to receive a gold, silver or bronze certificate, a figure I hope to better in the coming years. When you consider that the national ‘certificate rate’ is 50%, you can see why we as a Maths Department are so impressed with our students and so keen to celebrate these results.
Our Intermediate students were recently awarded their individual certificates by Head-teacher Miss Lamb.
If your child would like to take part in future competitions, please ask them to come speak to me in the Maths department.