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One to One Maths and the value of peer mentoring

08 February 2016

One to One Maths and the value of peer mentoring

One to One Maths is an innovative peer-mentoring programme which works jointly with prisons and educational staff to encourage and empower prisoners with good numeracy skills to mentor prisoners who lack basic numerical ability.

Recent research suggest that 52% of male prisoners have numeracy skills no higher than those broadly expected of an 11 year old child, while less than 40% of prisoners have a level of numeracy equivalent to GCSE.* To help raise awareness of this issue and provide practical maths support to those who have been failed by the conventional education system Schofield & Sims has partnered with prison education charity One to One Maths.

The aim of One to One Maths is to assist prison education teams in helping prisoners – through the encouragement of their peers – to take that all important first step back into maths education. Since its creation in 2014, One to One Maths has grown rapidly, and is now operating in six prisons, with plans to extend the scheme into a further 10 prisons by the end of the 2016.

The scheme works by selecting volunteer prisoners who have good numeracy skills to act as mentors. The mentors’ role is to recruit prisoners, known as mentees, who have little or no basic numeracy skills and provide support and encouragement to help them improve their numeracy skills and grow in personal confidence and self-esteem. The learning takes place, not in a classroom, but in a private setting, wherever the mentee and mentor find they can comfortably and conveniently meet together for 30 mins to practise basic maths skills using the Schofield & Sims Mental Arithmetic books. As such, One to One Maths works as an effective aid towards rehabilitation for both the mentor and mentee.

The Mental Arithmetic series was selected by One to One Maths thanks to its user-friendly design, differentiated approach and non-patronising content, that mentees would not feel embarrassed by – a major influencing factor on whether or not a mentee will sign up to the project. The breadth of the Mental Arithmetic series means that mentees can approach the scheme at any level, based to their abilities and requirements. Mentors find the Mental Arithmetic Entry Tests a useful way of selecting the appropriate book for their mentees, while the Mental Arithmetic Achievement Certificates help mentees to feel a sense of accomplishment and trust in their mentor’s ability to help them learn.

Below are just a few examples of how prisoners who have participated in One to One Maths have responded to the scheme:

“The take up of One to One Maths and the feedback from users is really good and encouraging. The scheme has also encouraged people to go further onto GCSE courses, giving them the basic skills and a stepping stone to go onto the next level.” - Mentor

 “Very helpful, I feel that I am benefitting already and am on my second book. The tutor and the mentors are helpful and approachable – top marks.” - Mentee

For more information about One to One Maths or to make a donation, please visit:



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