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University Volunteers Help Raise Aspirations Of York's Talented Maths Pupils

Uni of York 300414

10:10am 2nd July 2014

The club for talented Year 8 and 9 maths pupils was set up by staff from local schools, City of York Council, and the University of York, supported by seven York Students in Schools (YSIS) volunteers from the University's Department of Mathematics who acted as coaches. The pilot project involved pupils and YSIS volunteers meeting each half term to work together on a range of problems and puzzles which they continued between sessions on a dedicated virtual learning platform.

The University student volunteers won the Shepherd Group Award for Student Volunteering in the category of Impact at a recent Careers celebration in recognition of their work in raising aspirations.

Sarah Kirkpatrick, one of the YSIS student volunteers, said:

"Being part of y=mx+c has enabled me to share my passion for mathematics with others who love it just as much. I wish there had been something like this available for me when I was at school."

"The scope of the material the pupils have engaged with has opened their eyes to the abundance of mathematics that is out there and shown them what it is like beyond school. The ability of the pupils has kept me on my toes; in challenges I've had to work hard to keep up with the speed of their reasoning! I plan to teach maths and being part of this project has prepared me well to provide for the most able students I teach."

Luke Franks, aged 13, a pupil at York High School, said:

"It's been really fun being part of the club and meeting other people who love numbers too."

Last month y=mx+c club members took part in a Dragon's Den-style event at the University where each group presented on a mathematical topic which they had researched with the support of their YSIS coach. Pupils then answered questions from a panel of mathematical experts, including Professor Maurice Dodson and Professor Tony Sudbery, both from York's Department of Mathematics, and Ann Gannon, who leads the University's Mathematics PGCE programme.

The event, which was also attended by the pupils parents and teachers, was won by Sam Curtis, aged 13, from Huntington School who presented on the topic Elliptic Curves with the support of his YSIS coach Sarah Kirkpatrick.

Alan Easterbrook, Secondary Mathematics Consultant for the City of York, said:

"The Dragons Den was intended to showcase and celebrate the work of our y=mx+c members and it certainly achieved this. The quality of the presentations and the level of mathematical discussion with the Dragons were both superb. This couldn't have happened without the sensitive and knowledgeable support given to each group by their YSIS coaches who have acted as first rate role models for the y=mx+c members throughout the programme."

Sally Greenwood, Volunteering Project Officer at the University of York, said:

"This has been a fantastic project, with the YSIS volunteers doing an amazing job, encouraging and stretching the pupils through each workshop. It is great that through YSIS we are able to meet the needs of local pupils and raise their aspirations, while providing an opportunity for our volunteers to share their energy and expertise."

y=mx+c is supported by the Independent State School Partnership (ISSP), City of York Council and York Students in Schools, and draws pupils from independent, maintained and academy schools across York.

YSIS, based in Careers at the University of York, is a student volunteering scheme that places 700 students as volunteers in local schools each year.


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