Record 1.5m UK users log on to Cambridge maths outreach website following COVID-19 closure of schools

Multi-coloured  Dice  Credit: Lynn Friedman

After coming to the rescue of more than 1.5 million UK schoolchildren, parents and teachers when the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in March, mathematicians from a Cambridge University outreach programme are helping pupils get back on track now classrooms have reopened.

The NRICH maths project – which provides thousands of free online mathematics resources for ages three to 18 – saw a 94.87% year-on-year rise in website visits from the UK between March and September, with up to 724,758 page views each week.

The team, a collaboration between the University’s faculties of Mathematics and Education, responded quickly when it became clear that schools would be closing as part of the lockdown, working to tailor the website for pupils working from home and uploading resources they thought would benefit them – and their parents.

“We totally pivoted,” said Ems Lord, Director of NRICH. “We put everything else we were doing on hold and sat down as a team and worked out what categories we needed to fill. We went through our files and found all the stuff we thought would be good to do at home. Activities you could print off and resources you could use online.”

And while they were preparing the maths games and problems, the team also considered the new learning environment pupils found themselves in and created a selection of resources that utilised things found around the house, such as buttons, scraps of paper, and even toy bricks that could be used as counters.

“We created a selection of resources so you didn’t need your metre stick or your plastic cubes, and we tried to make it as family friendly as possible,” said Dr Lord. “We also rejigged our homepage for people coming to it for the first time – we put a bright yellow banner across the page that says ‘Maths at Home’, so you couldn’t miss it.” 

The revamped site was live on the Monday morning after schools closed. 

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Image: Dice

Credit: Lynn Friedman

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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