Over the last two years, we have worked with a number of universities on the National Collaborative Outreach Programme - delivering engaging and aspirational workshops to more than 2,500 students from Years 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Through maths programmes including The Trading Game, Selling Maths and The Bunker, business studies’ initiatives like The Priorities Game and such literacy interventions as CSI: Reading Skills, we have worked closely with Aim Higher, Higher Horizons, University College Birmingham and Aston, Birmingham, Harper Adams, Keele and Staffordshire Universities to help students explore the relevance and importance of core subjects, challenge them to “go beyond the curriculum” and remind them of the potential of higher education to transform lives.

“Thank you so much for the sessions you delivered last Thursday. They went down extremely well and students were overwhelmingly positive about them and the teachers also rated your session as their top one of the day!” University Outreach Programme, Keele University

 

Popular workshops include:

The Trading Game

A high energy activity that challenges students’ understanding of shape, probes concepts of “value” and asks them to cope with the unexpected!

The Trading Game provides students with opportunities to think about maths in some very different ways. Working in an ever-shifting environment, they’ll come to understand that “value” can be a concept that changes depending on circumstances, that the ability to prioritise is an essential mathematical skill, and that the properties of 2D shapes allow them to be arranged in a variety of ways.

And while the Game has its own intrinsic merit, of course, its greater value lies in the follow-up – where students are facilitated through a process allowing them to identify and categorise the skills they have had to use.

Fast, furious and fantastically engaging, The Trading Game workshop can accommodate up to 60 pupils at a time and can last anything from an hour to half a day. It exisits in a range of age-differentiated formats.

Exploring: tessellation, changing values, problem-solving.

Duration: 1 hour - 1 day

Suitable for: up to 60 students at a time

“The workshops were absolutely brilliant and I have already passed the contacts for As creatives on to our other hubs so they will be contacting you very soon to book in!” Higher Horizons, Staffordshire University

 

Number Patterns: The Bunker (Y8 - Y12)

A fast-paced workshop contextualising sequencing and making connections between maths and other subjects

At the heart of maths, of course, lies the ability to identify, analyse and predict patterns. so, inspired by the work of Alan Turing and his fellow mathematicians at Bletchley Park during World War II, The Bunker is based in cryptology – the writing and reading of codes. Appealing to all age and ability ranges, The Bunker has a simple premise. Working in teams, and at their own pace, students need to identify as closely as possible the location of an Enemy Radio Transmitter by cracking a series of increasingly fiendish numeric, geometric and semiotic ciphers. The more codes they crack, the more precisely they’ll be able to pin the Transmitter down.

The Bunker has been so successful over the years that we've now developed the most challenging version so far (for those who wish to take it!). Calling on participants to manipulate numbers, geometrics and abstract symbols, it's ideal for high-ability mathematicians - and provides a perfect way of demonstrating just how far maths can take you!

Exploring (according to year group and time): number relationships, empirical thinking, properties of 2D shapes, sequences and patterns, Rebus codes, Caesar Shifts, Key words and semiotics. 

Duration: 2 lessons – half a day

Suitable for: up to 30 pupils at a time

 

The Priorities Game 

Working in teams -  and responding to change - to put maths in context

This thought provoking workshop sees students working in teams to create a series of budgets designed to fund an exciting new community initiative. The sting in the tail, though, is that each team will represent a different interest group, with, of course, different priorities. And whether the students are representing other young people of their own age, local businesses or police officers, they’ll have to bear those priorities in mind as they put maths in context by putting together “wish lists” based on limited budgets. They’ll be given the prices of some popular items (other costings being available on request!) and will be supported throughout by a structured planning scaffold - but they’ll also have to continually review their decisions in the light of rapidly changing events. At the end of the day, however, only one budget can be implemented - and it’ll be the power of teams’ final presentations that determines the outcome!

Exploring: maths in context, additive reasoning, multiplicative reasoning, fractions, percentages, teamwork, oracy

Duration: 2 lessons (the activity can be repeated several times in a single day)

Suitable For: KS3/KS4 / S1 - S5 (up to 30 students at a time)

 

Selling Maths

Which discovery had more impact on the world – the concept of zero or the ratio characterised by pi? Which development led to the most advances – the binary system or the Fibonacci sequence? And which invention was the more eventful – the abacus or the yes/no gate? This intriguing workshop sees students addressing such questions themselves as, taking on the role of Maths Ambassadors, they plan, prepare and perform presentations that pitch given Maths Moments as the most important of all time. And, in a mathematical twist on The X Factor, they get to vote on the winner! 

 

The Expedition

Testing pupils' skills in pattern analysis, problem-solving and prioritisation, this intriguing workshop invites them to work to a tight budget in planning for an expedition to the rain forest. Have they made the right decisions? The proof will be in the pudding as they go on to tackle a series of unpredictable challenges at the airport, on the trek to camp - and in the forest itself.

Exploring: additive and multiplicative reasoning, prioritisation, problem-solving.

 

CSI: Michaela Maths 

Combining football, murder mysteries and problem-solving, CSI: Michaela Maths is one of the most popular programmes, offering pupils an opportunity to apply their skills and understanding of shape and measurement in a unique environment. If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking of one of her teammates, Michaela Maths, one of Britain’s most promising young athletes, would be dead – slain by an unseen hand! The police are baffled by the crime and want the pupils’ help in solving it. Having been introduced to the crime, the suspects and their possible motives, students will work in teams on a carousel probing a range of mathematical skills. Taken together, these lead to the suspects being eliminated, one by one – until, if all the calculations are correct, the criminal is unmasked.

 

CSI: Bake Off

All is not well in the world of the Bake Off – one of the judges, Saul Pinewood, has had food poisoning – and he knows it wasn’t an accident! He’s narrowed the field down to six suspects – and hopes that pupils can use their understanding of fractions, percentages and measurements to help him take the final step.

 

CSI: Reading Skills

Students who tell us they don’t like “reading” are always amazed when they realise quite how much skilful reading they’ve accomplished by the end of this fun and busy workshop. From inference and deduction to skimming and scanning, from previewing to predicting and from context to content, CSI: Reading Skills makes no bones in drawing connections between the everyday skills required to interpret infographics and play computer games and those required to delve into more formal texts.

Specifically designed to support students in making those connections between different ways of “reading”, CSI: Reading Skills sees them working in small teams to help out in a time of national emergency – because a briefcase containing some Top Secret plans was discovered on the 8.42 to Little Padworth, destined for an Enemy Power. The only clues to the identity of the traitor are to be found in a pile of old train tickets, recipe, book reviews and faded photographs. If “read” correctly, however, they’ll allow the pupils to discover who took the plans and why.

Suitable for: KS3, KS4 (up to 30 students at a time)

Exploring: generic and transferable “reading” skills; the roles of speculation, inference and deduction in reading. 

Duration: 1½ hours – half a day

“Thank you for taking part in our event on Monday, your sessions went down really well and students have commented in evaluations how they enjoyed learning that they are constantly reading, even if it is images and the day has made English more fun for them.” Higher Horizons, Keele University

 

Spotlight On Shakespeare

Over four hundred years since his death, Shakespeare’s poetry is still being read, performed and listened to all over the world – which says something for its power and beauty! This experiential and highly active workshop sees pupils being introduced to a number of drama activities and approaches as we take them right through the play, exploring the backstory, meeting the main characters and bringing key moments to life. Our Shakespeare programmes are all planned and delivered by professional theatre practitioners, and so give pupils a uniquely “actor’s eye view” of the text. We certainly don’t shy away from the verse - and our approaches work with any of the plays!

Exploring (depending on time): the importance of backstories, narrative structure, characterisation, cause and effect, simple stagecraft, the role of verse.

Duration: 1 hour – 1 day, depending on the number of classes.

 

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