Tutor Trust is rolling out a pioneering project to support, encourage and inspire gifted young mathematicians to realise their potential.

In partnership with University of Liverpool Maths School, we are delivering the Maths Circles project created by MESME (Mathematics Education for Social Mobility and Excellence), a charity that aims to support students from all backgrounds to achieve mathematical excellence. 

The project is designed to stretch and challenge the top Mathematicians in Years 7, 8 and 9, and has a strong emphasis on problem-solving.  MESME focuses on the establishment of Maths Circles, groups of pupils who come together to be mathematicians collectively. Together they grapple with intriguing questions and discover and explore exciting ideas, in turn developing and expanding their mathematical thinking and curiosity.

Having successfully piloted the project in Merseyside at St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic Academy in Whiston and Dixons Fazakerley Academy in Fazakerley in the summer term of 2020-2021, we are now rolling it out to 20 secondary schools across the North of England.  Schools that are taking part include, in Leeds, Pudsey Grammar School, Dixons Trinity Chapeltown, Co-op Academy Leeds and Bishop Young Academy.  In Greater Manchester, Levenshulme High School and Burnage Academy for Boys have signed up and in Merseyside, Dixons Fazakerley Academy, Sandymoor Ormiston Academy and St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic Academy are involved.

Partnering with University of Liverpool and MESME to deliver the Maths Circles was a golden opportunity to reach a different group of students, says Mark Wyss, our Liverpool School Partnerships Manager and the former Principal of Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn.

"Our mission is to transform lives through tutoring and enabling every young person to achieve their potential, wherever they are from,” says Mark.

“The MESME pilot at St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic Academy worked really well and the Maths Circles were inspiring, which is what we want to achieve with all our tutoring – to engage our tutees and support them to develop their skills further. Being able to enthuse the next generation of mathematicians through the MESME project is something quite special.”

The project’s aim is for all pupils, regardless of their background, to feel part of a rich mathematical community and identify as a mathematician. MESME’s target is that by 2035 there will be double the number of PhD students in the mathematical sciences at UK universities.

Along the way, MESME hopes to increase the numbers of participating pupils attaining medals in United Kingdom Maths Trust (UKMT) challenges, top grades at GCSE and in A-level Further Mathematics and progressing to competitive universities to study degrees in the mathematical sciences.

Alexandra Hughes, St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic Academy’s Director of Mathematics, said the pilot had shown promising results:

“It was wonderful to see how our talented Maths students embraced working together to solve problems. They developed their academic skills, with great support and guidance from Emilia, the tutor, alongside other useful tools, such as teamwork, that will stand them in good stead for their future careers. We’re looking forward to continuing with the project this year.

Tutor Trust tutor Emilia Bland took part in the pilot project to tutor the budding mathematicians at St Edmund Arrowsmith.

It’s a great project to work on. The Maths Circles create a really stimulating environment for learning, and it’s great to see the students collaborating to solve some really tricky challenges.  They are a great group to work with, they’re highly motivated and interested in the subject and I feel I’m learning as much about Maths as they are.   It’s definitely prompted discussion about Maths as a career choice.

Haidor Ali, one of the tutors working on the project at Burnage Academy for Boys said:

There’s a lot of emphasis on the students bringing out ideas and communicating with each other by challenging each other’s ideas throughout the whole session. It’s very fun to teach and I can tell the students had a lot of fun tackling the problems and discussing it amongst themselves."

Charlotte Potter, MESME board member, said the project had ambitious goals:

We are excited to be partnered with the University of Liverpool and Tutor Trust to support schools in running Maths Circles. We developed this project to bring greater diversity to the field of Mathematics and aim to develop students’ mathematical thinking and expand their mathematical curiosity. We also hope that students are encouraged to consider Maths for further study and possibly as a future career.”