Like most schools, Miles Coverdale Primary in Hammersmith and Fulham is keen to explore different ways of engaging its pupils in maths. So, in a very creative twist, they decided to stage a Maths and Art Week – five days during which every class would spend at least part of each day exploring the connections between these two seemingly disparate subject areas. Day 1 was to be a gentle introduction – but they wanted Day 2 to “go big”. So they asked us if there was a way we could support them – in a way that would lead to tangible outcomes.

Over a number of conversations, it was agreed that we could offer best value for money by (a) running a series of workshops, one for each class, supporting children in investigating how artists use maths (both consciously and subconsciously) in their approaches – and (b) leaving each class with a “Mathematical Art Challenge”, to be facilitated by teachers over the remainder of the week, with the best responses being displayed at an event for families on the Friday.

“Children were all highly engaged throughout and enjoyed sharing what they had been learning during lunch and play breaks. The high level questioning followed the remit of Maths and Art which we had set.” (Deputy Headteacher)

Each workshop consisted of three distinct phases ...

Phase 1 saw pupils working in small groups to create (from their bodies) icons from one of the great cultural centres, Paris – and to discuss and answer mathematical questions related to these. Described by the facilitator as witnessed during a real visit to Paris, these icons included the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, a snail and the Mona Lisa.

In the second phase, pupils worked in pairs to examine a number of artworks and answer related age-differentiated maths-based questions. The artists we chose spanned the classical, impressionistic and BritArt ages (Mary Beale, Vincent Van Gogh and Chris Offili respectively), and included examples of interior decor (the Alhambra, Granada), line drawings (LS Lowry) and sculpture (Rachel Whiteread). And, in a touch much appreciated by staff, they also included an 1862 stained glass window of Miles Coverdale himself!

And Phase 3 introduced children to their differentiated Mathematical Art Challenges. Giving them initial support in planning, these were later successfully achieved with their Teachers’ support. The approaches ranged from tessellation (as in Warhol) to geometricity (as in Kandinsky) to the Golden Ratio (as used by Michelangelo).

“Thank you very much for a wonderful day that really helped to enhance our Maths and Art week. You were fantastic!” (Deputy Headteacher)