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26th February, 2016
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HORSERACING ADDS UP FOR KIDS
5th September, 2011
A nationwide numeracy initiative, Racing to School, counts on reaching over 100,000 children in the next 10 years.
A racing charity, the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust (BHEST), has set itself the target of teaching practical numeracy skills to over 100,000 children in the next ten years, having already supported 75,000 since 2001 through its ground-breaking education programme, Racing to School.
The Racing to School initiative uses the context of the horseracing industry to equip pupils with a range of numeracy and literacy skills. The initiative offers a very different way of learning. Instead of sitting in a classroom practising multiplication, subtraction and percentages, children get outside and use their maths skills to calculate the height and spread of fences or the number of horses that can safely parade in the paddock. Pupils begin to see their school subjects in a whole new light and understand how important they are in the real world.
According to Rhydian Morgan-Jones OBE, BHEST Chairman, “We’re rightly proud of what our outreach programme has achieved over the past ten years. However, the recent report by Sheffield University into the state of young people’s literacy and numeracy, as well as Carol Vorderman’s concerns over the effective teaching of maths, make us believe that we need to reach an even larger number of young people in the years to come.
“Our very practical approach to maths teaching works well with both children and their teachers and we’re particularly pleased with the positive response we’ve had from children based at inner city schools and from deprived areas. However, our work will always be constrained by the challenges of adequate funding.’’
Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of the programme is its ability to make learning so fun and engaging. As Jodi who recently attended a Racing to School day at Carlisle said, “The best thing was it wasn’t written maths – it was like it was undercover.” It also successfully engages pupils who are disillusioned with learning and lack confidence. “A very friendly positive experience…I heard one of our very withdrawn pupils speak for the first time!” Michael Hearne, St Matthew Academy, Lewisham.
Recent research has shown that a fifth of young people are innumerate and a sixth illiterate, highlighting fears that a significant proportion of youngsters are leaving school without the skills they need to participate in everyday life, or find a meaningful job. Major employers also are concerned about numeracy, with 42% claiming that it’s an issue they face with school leavers.
Carol Vorderman, the maths guru and Government advisor on maths teaching, believes that school work should be divided between theoretical mathematics and practical, real world applications.
BHEST believes that Racing to School is one of the few national numeracy initiatives in the UK and the only one to use the many facilities on offer at racecourses, studs and trainers’ yards. It also gives 8,500 children each year their very first racecourse experience and gives thousands their first contact with a horse.
BHEST will be holding a fundraising event at Sandown Park Racecourse on Friday 9th September to try to secure future support for the programme.
Rhydian Morgan-Jones said, “I would like to congratulate everyone at BHEST for reaching this significant milestone and to thank all the supporters who helped us achieve it. I very much hope that we can continue to grow and develop the programme, reaching over another 100,000 children by 2021. I am confident that with the help of our supporters the programme has a very bright future.”