By Fiona Rosler
The idea to run “Beaumont Maths Week” arose after attending the Beaumont Teachmeet last November. I attended Sue Lutz’s seminar on “Raising the profile of your department” and came away feeling inspired. I wanted to do something that would get students thinking about the maths skills they were learning and how they could apply them in other areas, and also wanted to promote enthusiasm and excitement for maths around the school.
We launched Maths week with an assembly where I shared the story of how I was drawn to the subject of maths when I was in school and the aspects of the subject which I found difficult. The idea of doing an assembly was quite a daunting prospect, but I knew that it would create the right kind of buzz about the subject and the activities that were coming up. I booked myself in for an assembly slot before I could overthink the idea and talk myself out of doing it so, although I didn’t sit down to properly plan what I would speak about until February half term, the thought process began months before and I always had a vague idea of what I wanted. I felt nervous before I began but once I started talking the story just came naturally. The high that I felt when I finished (and realised that people liked it) was amazing and it’s something I’m really glad I did.
There were various activities run during “Maths Week”. Because the idea had formed in my mind so early on in the year, I actually had a few months of being able to let ideas float around in my mind and decide what was good and what wasn’t, or what would work better than something else. This meant that when I sat down to actually write the challenges and questions I had a clear idea of what I wanted.
The staff questions were a big hit and I was so pleased with the response from so many different departments – who knew we had so many talented mathematicians? The competitive element obviously made it a bit of fun and I’m already thinking about more difficult questions for next year. It was really great the way staff talked about the quiz with their classes and the students who helped teachers couldn’t wait to come and brag about it to the maths department.
There were house activities for each year group and again, the response from these was amazing. It was great to see so many students working on problems together and to have students come up to me to chat about what they were doing and see the enthusiasm and excitement it had created.
As the finale, we ran a Maths-themed bake off and cake sale for the 6th form. This was the part I was most worried about as I knew that if there weren’t enough entries we couldn’t then have the cake sale that had been advertised. Believe it or not, I actually had dreams the night before about setting up a shop with nothing to sell, My fears were unfounded however – we had so many entries that looked and tasted amazing and the subsequent cake sale was so popular that it only lasted about ten minutes before we were completely sold out. We raised almost £90 which we donated to the National Numeracy Organisation whose work you can read about here.
For the week to be successful, there was a lot to organise, but with everyone in the lovely Maths Department pitching in, as well as the 6th form Maths Captains, all of the effort was definitely worth it. I was so pleased with the response from staff and students and am already looking forward to next year.