Following the recent National World Numeracy Day in the UK, the Professional Darts Corporation has taken advantage of the occasion by promoting its Bullseye Maths initiative. PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter explains what the initiative is, and how darts can help educate a nation...
Wednesday (18th May) marked National Numeracy Day in the UK, and to celebrate, the World Darts Champion, Peter Wright, visited Lark Hall Primary School in south London to take part in our Bullseye Maths initiative.
We launched Bullseye Maths earlier in the year as a response to the evidence that children’s numeracy levels were drastically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as school closures resulted in many young pupils seeing their education disrupted at a crucial time in their development.
We are a sport that requires a degree of numerical ability, and it has been interesting to listen to players, such as two-time World Champion Gary Anderson and our 2022 World Championship runner-up Michael Smith, talk about their experiences with maths at school and that through playing darts, numbers started to come easier to them, and their confidence began to grow.
With this, we wanted to see what we could do as an organisation to support young children and families, and started working with children’s charity, Maths on Toast. Maths on Toast research shows that maths anxiety is a real and debilitating emotional reaction to maths and playing with numbers is the key to a positive attitude towards maths.
This led us to develop Bullseye Maths, an online and in-school maths programme run by the PDC for 8-12-year-olds which helps children practice their maths through fun darts-based games.
Bullseye Maths encourages children to play with maths through a dedicated learning section on the PDC website. Here, children and their families can access the online darts-based maths game
“Mathlete”, download fun maths activity sheets to use with a dartboard, and watch videos from PDC players like Gary and Michael talking about their experiences with maths growing up and see referees Russ Bray and Kirk Bevins discuss their roles in the sport.
As well as the education section on our website, we have been taking Bullseye Maths into schools around the country to coincide with some of our televised events, showing children how to play darts and to have fun learning maths. Run by staff from Nottingham College’s “Room 180 Academy” and with special visits from some of our top players – including Wright, Smith and Premier League stars James Wade and Joe Cullen – we have now visited schools in St Helens, Coventry, Blackburn, Nottingham, and Leeds and interacted with over 200 schoolchildren. All the children who have taken part in the sessions have given some great feedback through questionnaires before and after the session.
We are still building out and improving the session, but the results so far have been fantastic:
• In general, the pupils liked maths - with 59% saying they look forward to maths lessons and 63% saying that they enjoy learning about maths.
• However, 56% of pupils said they think playing darts will help their maths and 73% said they think learning maths will be easier when taught as part of a game. This went up to 81% following the Bullseye Maths class.
• 92% of pupils said they enjoyed the Bullseye Maths class and 90% said they would like to do it again as part of a maths class.
• 69% of pupils said the Bullseye Maths session helped them with their odd and even numbers and 56% of pupils said the Bullseye Maths session helped them with their two- and three-times tables.
It has been great to see the children enjoying darts, and we are delighted to see them improving their maths in the process. The mental arithmetic of some of our players, and in particular, our referees is incredible, and we hope this programme will inspire and engage children to want to learn and ultimately improve their confidence with numbers in everyday life.