Champions of the maths world: Junior school pupils win global competition

Maths World Cup winners

The Mathematics World Cup winners from Squirrels Heath Junior School, pictured with Numberfit founder Gavin Mair. L-R: Charlie, Bella-Rose, Autumn, Francesca, Sam (captain) and Maisie. Not pictured: Ollie. - Credit: Squirrels Heath Junior School

A primary school team from Gidea Park has beaten off huge competition to be declared the winners of the Mathematics World Cup.

More than 30,000 children - from countries as far away as India, Oman and South Africa - entered, but it was seven pupils from Squirrels Heath Junior School's Class 4 Willow that topped the leaderboard for 2021.

The school's maths lead Aoife Bush said: "It’s absolutely huge. To actually be the winning team; not just in London or Havering, but in the world.

“The biggest thing it has done is inspire the children. It shows them that when they put in the hard work, it pays off, and that they can achieve more than they thought.” 

This competition is run by Numberfit, an initiative intended to help deliver inspiring maths lessons by combining teaching with movement and mindfulness.

All participants in the Mathematics World Cup

All the children from Squirrels Heath Junior School who participated in the Mathematics World Cup 2021. - Credit: Squirrels Heath Junior School

These three m's are the cornerstone of the contest.

They are also crucial to Squirrels Heath: "Beyond the learning, we want the children to be physically and emotionally healthy. This is something we focus on by teaching the children yoga and mindfulness, which we have been doing this year."

Numberfit creator Gavin Mair was on hand to share the good news.

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However, as Mrs Bush explains, all wasn't quite what it seemed.

"Gavin phoned me to say that one of the school’s teams had featured in the top ten, so they wanted to come and interview the children about the competition.

Mathematics World Cup Champions

The moment it was revealed that The Green Dream Team - from Class 4 Willow - were the Mathematics World Cup Champions. - Credit: Squirrels Heath Junior School

"In reality, they came to tell them that they had won the competition." 

Mrs Bush - also an assistant headteacher - recalls how a quiet shock initially fell over the classroom, before she gently reminded the group of what they had achieved - cue the eruption of excitement.

Though the group won the typical accolades, the maths teacher believes the real prize goes well beyond that.

"It wasn’t really about the medal for the children, but about the feeling that they could beat the world."

This victory has also left its mark on the staff and ranks among the "defining moments" of Mrs Bush's 21-year teaching career - and all in the context of Covid-19.

The 2020/21 school year also began with the school winning the Mayor of London's Schools for Success Award.