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Papers' maths challenge scoops international award in New York

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An innovative project from the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star which helps Suffolk schoolchildren to improve their maths has won a top international award.

Maths Challenge, organised by the Archant Suffolk papers and Suffolk County Council, won the prestigious award at the World Congress of the International News Media Association (INMA), which was held in New York.

The project won the PR and Community Service category at the awards, which attracted 500 entries from 30 countries around the world. Second in the same category was a newspaper based in Florida, and third was a Brazilian media organisation.

Maths Challenge was launched by the EADT and Star and the county council last year, in response to poor attainment levels in maths. About 7,000 pupils from more than 120 primary schools took part in the scheme, which saw them use workbooks to complete challenging but fun maths tasks using stories from the newspaper.

The project was so successful that it is being repeated this year, with children taking up the challenge in the summer term.

Terry Hunt, EADT/Star editor, said: “I am absolutely bowled over by this award. It’s a great tribute to everyone who worked so hard to get Maths Challenge off the ground in response to a problem, including the teachers who produced a brilliant workbook, all the schools who took part so enthusiastically, and, of course, all the children who took up the challenge.

“It’s also a good example of the contribution that a good local newspaper can, and should, make to its community. When I saw the disappointing maths results, I called the county council to tell them to expect negative coverage, but I also offered our help to start to improve things. From that conversation came Maths Challenge.

“My thanks to the education authority, which has been so supportive in every way, including financially, and also to Scottish Power Renewables, for their invaluable sponsorship.

"We know we have issues with attainment levels in Suffolk schools, but with innovative projects like Maths Challenge and also Raising the Bar in place we are determined to bring about dramatic improvement.''

Sue Cook, Director of Children and Young People’s Service at Suffolk County Council, said: “This is such fantastic news. Together we are clearly leading the field, indeed the world, in finding creative ways of working together to help our children in Suffolk achieve.

“My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the EADT and Star. I really appreciate their continued commitment to our children’s education, support for Raising the Bar and for their willingness to be bold and ambitious in achieving this.

“I am delighted that they have received this international recognition and once again I encourage all schools, parents and children to take up the Maths Challenge and make the most of it.’’

The global judging panel for the INMA Awards comprised 21 media executives from 14 countries. Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and Chief Executive Officer of INMA, said: “What we saw in this year’s winning entries were multi-media news brands using many platforms to convey messages of vitality.”

Pictured above are some of the 7,000 Suffolk schoolchildren who have taken part in the Challenge.

© Archant Ltd 2013