A PIONEERING Warwickshire entrepreneur is breaking down the barriers around Maths education by launching what is believed to be the first teaching aid of its kind in the world.
Mathematician Sophie Parker’s new postal Tutor In A Box learning and revision aid is the first to be geared to GCSE-aged students.
The boxes, which are aligned to the National Curriculum, are designed to complement classroom learning and contain fun resources including stationery, games, badges and even confectionery. They are also tied in to a virtual learning programme which gives them access to on-demand webinars and an around-the-clock Facebook community group.
With exams season looming, Sophie has already seen the difference her concept has made to young people across the country who have traditionally struggled with the subject at school.
The 27-year-old Maths tutor, from Leamington Spa, said people liked the ‘positivity’ and ‘fun’ element of the box; which breaks from the norm.
She said: “Maths should be fun, engaging and interactive. A lot of students think they can’t do it and they’re afraid to pick up the pen and have a go because they worry they’ll get it wrong. It’s a confidence issue more than anything. When students get those lightbulb moments it’s amazing! They’ve understood it and feel good about the subject. I designed the resources to help everybody, everywhere to have those lightbulb moments and realise they CAN do Maths. “
She added: “A lot of the students I saw were doing fine in their lessons at school but didn’t have structure around homework and I ended up creating a lot of resources to help them.
“I also realised that there were other students who could benefit from the resources – students who were already motivated but didn’t necessarily need a tutor and students whose parents couldn’t afford a tutor but needed some work to be getting on with outside of the classroom that was enjoyable.”
Nine Maths topics
There are nine Maths topics covered by the boxes, which can be ordered as one-offs or via a six- or 12-monthly subscription: Algebra, Angles, Compound Interest, Correlation and Sampling, Fractions, Graphs, Indices, Probability, Pythagoras and Ratios. Each contains relevant worksheets along with complementary fun and engaging resources.
”All of the exercises are designed to be fun – such as eating marshmallows to learn about interest, or matching up magnetic fractions to learn about proportions. ” Sophie said.
A former statistician, Sophie was named Educator of the Year at this year’s Pride of Stratford Awards, organised by Touch FM. If her business takes off Sophie has plans to roll it out to other subject areas by collaborating with tutors in the fields of English and Science.
She said: “It’s a brand new concept. There is nobody that does what we do out there for GCSE-aged children. Just a revision guide on a piece of paper is long gone – students need something fun and engaging with online content and that’s where we come in.
“There are some great Maths teachers out there changing the way Maths is being taught. The issue is teachers don’t have the time or resources to make every single lesson more engaging and relevant to real life – so that’s where Tutor In A Box comes in. It’s designed to support all the good work teachers do – at an affordable price and a convenient time.”
Danni Cleeve, a Year Eight student from Stratford-upon-Avon, is among the first children to try the box.
Her mum Gill said: “My daughter was very excited about opening the beautifully presented box and we were both very impressed by the quality of the contents. The first thing she spotted was the ‘I love Maths’ badge pack, she loved these. The next item was Numenko in a Bag, this is a number game where we as the players work independently, the same time as everyone else, building our own equations, and competing to use all of our allotted tiles the fastest! It’s a lot of fun.
“Also, in the box there were some motivational cards, coloured pencils, a daily Maths calendar with Maths questions and of course some Maths lessons, all laid out in a fun and very thoughtful way.
“These lessons have already greatly improved both mine and my daughter’s understanding of some important math topics. Now if I could just find a time machine to take me back to my school years, I would definitely find maths more enjoyable.”
Details at www.tutorinabox.co.uk