On Monday June 17, four talented young maths whizzes from Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green travelled to the Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster for the grand final of this year’s United Kingdom Maths Trust’s Team Challenge competition. They were pitted against 87 other teams of mathematically inclined youngsters who battled it out to lift the prestigious trophy.
The Team Challenge is an annual event which attracts teams of aspiring mathematicians from all across the UK: this year just over 1700 schools entered teams into one of the regional rounds held between February and March. From these, 88 winning and high scoring teams reached the challenging final. First and foremost, the teams fought for the kudos of being crowned the best school maths team in the UK. Teams are made up of four pupils drawn from years 8 and 9 with a maximum of two pupils in year 9. The Bancroft’s team was Shivan Aggarwal, Zaki Lodhi, Shanuga Rubaraj and Anika Vijay. The competition is designed to offer pupils a chance to tackle a variety of engaging mathematical activities and also develop teamwork and communication skills.
Teams from Bancroft’s have been entering the competition for many years and, although they have finished in second place before, the accolade of winning has so far eluded the Woodford School.
After a long day of maths – four rounds and a poster competition – the Bancroft’s team had only lost nine marks. Whilst being proud of this score, they were not confident of their chances of success as they faced teams from Westminster, Eton and City of London all of which have a tradition of success in the competition. The announcement that the Bancroft’s team was the overall winner and, therefore, the best Maths team of their age group in the whole of the country took them by surprise!
Maths Teacher at Bancroft’s Mr Ray Tse, who had coached the team, said, “I am both proud and honoured to have worked with this group throughout this process. I told them to remember, nothing is impossible. If you give it your best shot and you still come second, there is nothing to be ashamed in losing to better opponents, but it is shameful if you don’t grab the opportunity and give it your best.”
While the team members spoke of being “exhilarated at winning they also confessed to being overwhelmed by the number of teams in the competition all seeming confident! Head of Maths at Bancroft’s, Mr Martin Flaherty praised the team, not just for their mathematical abilities, “Not only were the team worthy winners but each of them was so modest and humble in receiving their prizes and trophy. In essence, they were model representatives for the school.”
Rachel Greenhalgh, Executive Director, UKMT said: “It was amazing to see so many enthusiastic young people going head to head to be named the best group of young mathematicians in the UK. The event is such a great way to engage students in the subject of maths, encouraging the next generation of mathematicians. Who knows, the next Maryam Mirzakhani or Terence Tao could have been in the room?”
The Team Maths Challenge is sponsored by LetterOne, an international investment business which is interested in boosting the innovative skills needed for future modern economies and societies.