Maths inspired mural shows that Art makes numeracy fun

Issue date: 04 April 2011

A mural inspired by maths and created by school children at Begbrook School, working with a group of student volunteers from the University of the West of England, will be unveiled at the school on Friday 8 April at 14:45 by UWE Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Gough.

For the past term students from the Faculty of Creative Arts, Humanities and Education at UWE have encouraged the children to explore the connections between art and maths in activity workshops and this has run alongside a competition held by the school to create a design for a mural. The project has been funded by a Better Together Fund grant from UWE that was created to support community projects, student hardship bursaries, and the student experience at UWE.

Andi Pratt, a first year Illustration student at UWE, says he was keen to take the opportunity to do something independent of his coursework. He said, “I made a beeline for the volunteering stand at Freshers Week and said that I was very keen to get involved in art and design projects. This has been a really rewarding experience and it's been great to work in a school. This project has only taken up a small amount of time, just one afternoon a week, but it's given me an insight into working with children and a sense of giving something back.

“The mural was designed by Bristol-based artists Alex Dimond and Martin Jones and incorporates work by children from each year group, using maths related imagery including shapes, design and symmetry.”

When asked about what he thought of Art of Numbers, 7 year old Begbrook pupil Ben Honeychurch summed up the project in one word, “fun!”.

Duncan Cruickshank, Headteacher at Begbrook School said, “This is the perfect project. It takes maths out of the classroom and into the playground where it helps maths become more real for children. It has really excited and inspired them. The UWE student volunteers have been very impressive; very keen to get involved, very positive attitudes and with bags of talent. Thank you to everyone on behalf of the children for this success.”

Kate Brooks, a UWE Lecturer who is co-ordinating the project along with Helene Gibson from the school's Link Parent Forum, is impressed at the interdisciplinary nature of the volunteering opportunity. Kate said, "It has meant that Education students can work with Arts students in activity workshops exploring maths and images. They have been working to support a wider initiative called the Begbrook Art of Numbers Project. The school has very supportive parents and has been working with the Link Parents Forum to find ways of helping parents help their children with Maths."

Helene Gibson said, “The Art for Numbers project has been brilliant. The teaching of maths concepts has changed so much over the years and many of us found that when we tried to explain things to our children that we were using concepts that are very outdated and don't fit with the way maths is taught now. Through the Art of Numbers project, parents are learning how to use a numeracy toolkit to support their children's learning in Maths.The mural has been a very important part of the project as it shows how maths can be fun.”

Professor Paul Gough said, “Partnerships with local schools are very important to the University, and volunteering is something we are keen to encourage our students to do. Projects like this are valuable on so many levels, students get important extra curricular experience that helps broaden their horizons, school children get to meet and work with students and the wider community involved with the school will enjoy the mural for many years to come.”

The Better Together Fund awarded a grant to support the Art of Numbers project to purchase numeracy toolkits for every child in years 1 and 2 at the school, host workshops for parents to give them the confidence and skills to help children use the toolkits, and to run a series of art sessions to support the creation of the mural.


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