Saturday Maths Scheme - Serious Fun on Saturdays! (Bessemer Grange Primary School)
Southwark Community Education Council (SCEC) is an educational charity providing enrichment classes on Saturday mornings to local pupils from maintained sector primary schools in the London Borough of Southwark. The charity is linked through governance to the three independent schools of the Dulwich Foundation (Dulwich College, Alleyn's School and James Allen's Girls' School) and those three schools provide facilities and support (but not direct funding) to the charity.
Three enrichment schemes are offered to approximately 165 pupils from local state primary schools to enhance learning, curiosity and confidence. Pupils are taught in small groups by qualified tutors, with older pupils from the independent schools on hand to act as mentors. Each of the three independent schools hosts a different scheme with a particular focus. The scheme at Alleyn's is a Maths extension scheme, designed to boost the Maths provision for gifted state school pupils who show aptitude for the subject.
The project was started in 1992 by a local teacher and educationalist who perceived a need to provide extra tuition for pupils in local maintained sector primaries, who were often being taught in large groups. This teacher approached Dulwich College, who agreed to provide facilities and teaching resources for a scheme of small-group tuition on Saturday mornings and then Alleyn’s followed soon after. The schemes were placed on a surer footing by the creation of a separate registered charity, Southwark Community Education Council, under whose auspices the schemes are run.
The Dulwich Foundation schools provide classrooms and facilities, teaching materials, on-site supervision from a member of staff and organisational support to the schemes. They are also closely involved with the governance of the charity. In addition, Alleyn’s provides the charity with considerable administrative support and pays for a Maths School administrator.
The Saturday School scheme at Alleyn’s has, as its main aim, the improvement of pupils' mathematical ability. Feedback is sought from pupils, parents and the participants' schools to gauge the success of the scheme. A more formal assessment of the scheme is conducted by an external practitioner every two or three years and a written report is submitted to the charity's trustees.
40 state school children from 11 different primary schools come to work at Alleyn’s every Saturday morning. We employ a team of three specialist tutors who teach Maths in an innovative and exciting way, really bringing the subject to life and applying it to the real world. Topics have included Bridge Building, The Handshake Experiment, Spaghetti Towers and even Dance notation. Around 30 older pupils from Year 11 at Alleyn’s act as mentors on the scheme, supporting individual pupils in the classroom, carrying out administrative tasks and supervision, and, importantly, acting as role models for the younger children.
The Saturday School sessions take place every year in the autumn and spring terms. They provide around 32 hours of free, small-group tuition over 18 weeks. It is intended to continue the schemes in future years and if possible seek to expand them.