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Maths initiative bringing fun to the class



Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds of Ulster schoolchildren have been learning that numbers can be fun thanks to an initiative aimed at improving numeracy.

The Northern Bank's Time 2 Count programme, which operates in conjunction with Business in the Community, started in 2001 with 20 Northern Bank staff providing a weekly mentoring service to Key Stage 2 pupils in eight primary schools located throughout Belfast and now operates across Northern Ireland.

The programme was structured to engage the business sector in a meaningful way to complement the curriculum and to add value to the way mathematics is taught in the classroom.

Time 2 Count involves business volunteers giving of their time to help young people raise their aspirations and educational achievements.

The volunteers engage in a programme where they provide support to children in an attempt to make maths fun and exciting.

Vanessa Postle, the bank's community affairs manager, explained: "From our point of view we wanted to get involved in the scheme because it is our duty as a socially responsible business.

"We saw that there is a need for children to be encouraged to manage figures and enjoy maths as a subject.

"It's a very important thing because it helps them to manage their personal finances later in life."

Volunteers work with pupils on a weekly basis and during this time, a relationship develops between the adult and child which is beneficial to both.

"It is a very inspirational programme," explained Ms Postle.

"It makes maths fun and because the kids enjoy it, their confidence increases.

It is wonderful to see a group of pupils who are very quiet and uncertain at the beginning of the project go to being confident and totally alive by the end.

"And it's a wonderful experience for our volunteers too. Some of them have even enjoyed themselves so much that they have left the bank and have gone on to retrain as teachers."

Meanwhile, the Education Minister has praised local schools who are working in partnership with business organisations to enhance pupils' skills development.

Caitriona Ruane was speaking at the launch of Our Partner for the Future, a partnership between Norbrook Laboratories, St Colman's College in Newry and St Paul's High School in Bessbrook.

The aim of the partnership is to enhance the experience of pupils studying science, to provide opportunities for work experience and to increase awareness of employment possibilities in the scientific field.

Ms Ruane said: "The business community has a wide-ranging role to play in helping us to deliver a world class education system - by communicating their needs to education providers, by raising awareness of career opportunities and by providing experience of the working environment to pupils and to teachers."



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