Each year, the University of Leeds runs a series of mathematical challenges. These challenges are hard. Really hard. They are effectively an exam, taken one particular day across the whole country and then externally marked. The questions are the sort that first of all make you think you’re dull because you can’t do them, then clever because you think you can, and then dull again, when you realise that you’ve got it totally wrong despite your best efforts and half a paddling pool of sweat.

The junior papers consist of 25 questions, most of which completely baffled me. They are designed for the most mathematically able children ranging from Year 8 upwards. Despite the intended age range, it is possible for the most able children in KS2 to sit the tests. A few of ours did it this year, and we recently had the results back. Not surprisingly, only a few children managed to place and receive an award, but every one of the dozen or so who took part enjoyed it.

The simplest way to see for yourself exactly what it all about is to go the University’s website, at www.mathcomp.leeds.ac.uk/Maths%20Challenges.htm.

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