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Promoting maths: 3 out of 5 Challenge

3 out of 5 is a scheme which aims to engage prison learners in maths, particularly outside the maths classroom - in the gym, garden, library or non-maths education.

Learners complete the '3 out of 5 Challenge' by completing Challenge Cards on 3 our of 5 topics: A Rough IdeaPuzzle it OutValue 4 MoneyMaths Facts and Practical Numbers To support the scheme there are Guidance notes.

HMP Guy's Marsh won the Challenge Award for 2017/18. If you'd like to take part in this year's challenge, please contact Joan O'Hagan at by 28 February 2019. 


Maths in context

It can be hard for some learners to understand why they need to improve their maths skills. This series of vocational flyers highlight opportunities that the prison workshops bring to gain skills for employment and explain why maths skills are needed.

For example, the flyer, Working in Construction: Bricklaying includes:

  • Accurately calculate the number of bricks needed for a set task
  • Set out and accurately measure areas for construction
  • Estimate and provide accurate costs for all work to be completed

Teaching, learning and assessmentAn image of the Unlocking Maths guide

Our Unlocking Maths guide provides practical teaching strategies that promote active learning. Whether you are looking for ideas on how to deliver group work, differentiate, embed maths or use technology to support your delivery you'll find information, activities, links and examples within the sector.

Watch our active learning in the secure estate video which was created to accompany the guide.

Take a look at the Maths Pipeline Vocational Guides at the bottom of the page.

Maths peer mentorsMaths Mentors Handbook

Peer mentors support maths learning in a number of ways in over 30 prisons across England. Mentors help their peers to handle everyday maths situations, to become more confident with maths, and to develop the maths skills they need in prison workshops, and they encourage their peers to join maths courses.

Free resources, including materials for running a peer meths mentor training programme, are available for download

Watch our Developing peer mentoring video to learn more.


Continual professional development

Do you want to refresh or develop your personal maths skills? Take a look at the Pathways through maths resources course on Foundation’s online learning environment. Use the self-assessment tool to direct you to the resources you need or select topics of interest. You'll find tips on teaching the topics too. 

As well as this course to develop your personal maths skills the Foundation offers a whole range of courses within the Maths Pipeline programme.

On our News and Events page we highlight events and courses relevant to the sector.

Find out what other practitioners and providers are doing in their delivery of maths by subscribing to our free Offender Learning Newsletter.


We have a wide variety of resources that can help you develop your practice  - see bottom of page.

Take a look at the MathsThe maths starters and enders logo Starters and Enders cards which contain maths activities that you can use at the start or end of prison workshops, training or education sessions.

You'll find further resources on our maths, English and ESOL page.

Would you like printed copies of resources? You can request printed copies of a number of our maths resources by completing this order form.


Improving capacity to deliver maths is a high priority for the Foundation and we have worked with providers across all the Education and Training sector to develop a rich resource of research, training and materials for teachers, trainers and leaders to improve their practice and support learners to higher levels of achievement.  This page has a particular focus on maths in the Secure Estate; to find out about the support that is available for everybody supporting maths, visit our maths exhibition site.


Related Resources

A image of the resource Maths and English in Prison Work and Training

Maths and English in Prison Work and Training

Unlocking maths guide image

Unlocking maths guide for maths teachers working with learners, up to and including Level 2, within the Secure Estate

An image of the report - An assessment of English and maths skills of prisoners in England

An assessment of the English and maths skills levels of prisoners in England

Maths Starters and Enders image

Maths Starters and Enders Cards

Image of hospitality and catering: vocational maths guide

Hospitality and catering: vocational maths guide

Image of health and social care maths pipeline guide

Health and social care: vocational maths guide

Link to the hairdressing and beauty therapy maths pipeline guide

Hairdressing and beauty therapy: vocational maths guide

Image of the Construction and the Built Environment Maths Pipeline resource

Construction & the built environment: vocational maths guide

Maths Pipeline Secure Estate Films

Two videos exploring active learning and peer mentoring to help support maths teaching in the secure estate

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit cover

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit: Data handling

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit cover

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit: Measure

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit cover

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit: Fractions

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit cover

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit: Number

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit cover

OLASS Numeracy Toolkit: Guidance

Image of the front cover of the Maths Mentors Handbook

Maths Mentors programme – Maths4Prisons handbook and associated resources

Students in college

Waiting Lists for Numeracy Classes?