Over 200 primary and secondary school teams across Hertfordshire have taken part in the 2019 Herts for Learning (HfL) maths challenge for pupils in Year 5, Year 7 and Year 8.
Regional heats were hosted in locations across the county throughout the spring term before three separate finals, one for each year group, were held at the Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage.
The challenge covers a range of mathematical skills, including reasoning, calculation, estimation, memory and communication. No calculators or measuring equipment are allowed at any stage: it is all down to pencil, rubber, and student wit and imagination.
Each heat comprised four rounds: two on general mathematics questions, one memory round and one estimation round. For the final, an extra round on mathematical problems and puzzles is added.
The Year 5 final consisted of 20 groups of four pupils, made up of the 10 regional winners and runners up.
After a closely contested challenge, Nascot Wood Junior School, Watford came out triumphant by just one point beating Windhill21 in Bishop’s Stortford, who came second and Abbot’s Hill Independent School in Hemel Hempstead in third place.
Speaking about this year’s challenge, David Cook, Lead Teaching & Learning Adviser for mathematics at HfL, said “All the Year 5 pupils who took part were impeccably well behaved and engaged. But what was most impressive was just how well pupils persevered and were able to work together to solve some very challenging problems.”
35 teams took part in the Year 7 round with 13 teams making it to the final. With five rounds of difficult questions it was Chauncy School, Ware who brought back the trophy - for the second year in a row, beating Roundwood Park School, Harpenden and Stanborough School, Welwyn Garden City in second and third place respectively.
In the Year 8 maths challenge on Wednesday 19th June, 30 teams from across the county were whittled down to 16 to participate in the five gruelling rounds. Chauncy School, Ware emulated the performance of their Year 7 team by winning here as well, with Watford Girls’ Grammar School in second place and Birchwood High School, Bishop’s Stortford in third.
Another key round is the estimation round. In the Year 8 Final, for example, teams had to estimate the floor area of the venue, without doing any measuring. In a couple of the heats, the teachers accompanying the students were game enough to join in with this round … not always as successfully as the student teams.
William Thallon, Teaching and Learning Adviser for secondary mathematics at HfL said: “The maths challenge is not only a test of mathematics; it is a real test of resilience and teamwork. Each event involves hard work and thinking on behalf of the students, but they never shy away from either. Not only are they exceptional young mathematicians, their teamwork and communication are really something to behold.”
Judging by the faces of the many parents, carers and teachers attending the finals, this was a sentiment shared by many.