Aviva Premiership Rugby greats were among those hailing the Aviva Tackling Numbers project a huge success as it celebrated its first anniversary at the Houses of Parliament yesterday.
Former England and British & Irish Lions stars Will Greenwood and Austin Healey joined the Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch, MPs and young children in Westminster to support and discuss the innovative project aimed at making learning about numbers and basic financial literacy fun by combining elements of rugby.
During the first year of the scheme, 13,500 children in 265 schools were engaged through the club programme, which is delivered by each of the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs across the country from Exeter to Newcastle. There were more than 600 downloads of the free online resources last season.
Other highlights of the first season include being awarded the PFEG (Personal Finance Education Group) Quality Mark after an independent assessment by the UK’s leading financial education charity and setting a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham as 323 children took part in the world’s longest human representation of a mathematical equation on the pitch.
Will Greenwood, who won the 2003 World Cup and starred in the Premiership for Leicester Tigers and Harlequins, said: “To see some of the exercises they are doing at key stage two level that have a tremendous amount of relevance to their numeracy and their physical well-being, while still being enjoyable, is an outstanding combination.
“The old Victorian days of repetition, repetition, repetition and then hoping something goes in have very much changed to help people think more independently and these sorts of games also allow them to have discussion time among their groups.
“They are learning about numbers and physical exercise but they are also learning communication skills.
“The old days of lines and repetition do not work for children anymore. There is too much going on around them and they have instant access to so many things that you have to maintain the focus of the children for an appropriate amount of time so they can go on to get apprenticeships or jobs.
“You have to make it relevant. As a father of three I know; if you do not make it relevant for children, they switch off.”
Aviva Tackling Numbers is an engaging programme which integrates interactive classroom maths sessions with practical, number-based tag rugby games.
It uses the unique appeal of Aviva Premiership Rugby as the vehicle to deliver a range of numeracy challenges in a new and exciting way. In-depth resources have been produced for teachers to download for free online and use in the classroom.
Surveys showed 83 per cent of parents saw an increased awareness of the importance of maths in everyday life for their child, 80 per cent of teachers believe the programme is an effective way of teaching the national curriculum and 70 per cent of parents stated their child’s enjoyment of physical activity has increased.
Those figures and the scheme as a whole were celebrated today at a reception hosted by Mark Pawsey MP and Paul Farrelly MP, who are both part of the of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group.
They discussed the scheme with a number of children who had travelled to London from around the country before hearing speeches from Healey, Premiership Rugby’s Community and CSR Director, Wayne Morris, and John Lister, the Chief Finance Officer, UK & Ireland Life and Group Business Development Officer.
For Healey there was one stat that particularly stood out. He said: “I feel the numbers are remarkable really when you think it has only been going for a year but when you look at the details, the most impressive one for me is that 91 per cent of teachers would recommend other teachers using it.
“That shows it is a good tool for teachers, it helps all the pupils, it is fun, it breeds competition among your school-mates and it ticks all the boxes. I think it is great.”