WHAT’S mathematics got to do with firefighting?

Well, quite a lot actually, as children in Kidlington found out.

More than 150 pupils at Gosford Hill School — which has specialist status for maths and computing — learned about the role of maths in the world of work.

Representatives of Oxford University, Sainsbury’s supermarket and Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service visited the school for the event.

Firefighters showed Year 10 pupils how they used maths to tackle fires, whether by calculating pressures, volumes, hose lengths and areas, or safely positioning ladders — and fired off a volley of questions to test their numeracy skills.

Year 11 pupil Paul Brennan, 16, from Kidlington, who is taking a course in firefighting, helped set up the demonstrations.

He said if a firefighter tackling a fire with a hose got the water pressure wrong, it could cost someone their life.

He said: “I don’t like maths very much, but I appreciate it’s pretty important.”

Annette Cooper, 15, from Oddington, had the chance to handle a high-pressure fire hose.

She said: “I thought it was exciting — it’s not something you do every day. Maths isn’t one of my strongest subjects, but clearly it’s very important.”

Fire risk officer William Savage said pupils had responded positively to the demonstrations.

He said: “I wasn’t very good or interested in maths at school, but I wanted to work in the fire service and quickly realised I needed to brush up.

“The pupils seemed really interested and keen. I think a lot of the kids didn’t appreciate the importance of maths, because it’s taught in a classroom, but it’s really relevant – even if it’s for simply working out your wages!”

Back in the classroom, a fire crew from Kidlington showed Year 11 pupils a road safety DVD called Choices and Consequences.

Assistant headteacher and head of maths Jackie Fairchild said: “Everyone had good fun. The children found it very enjoyable. I don’t think they realised maths is used as much as it is.”

Judith Heathcoat, the county council’s cabinet member for community safety, added: “It’s easy to forget the importance of numeracy and mathematics, but they’re relevant in so many different ways, in so many lines of work.

“Using practical demonstrations is a great way of getting the point across, as well as encouraging students to enthuse about maths in general.”

At Gosford Hill, the number of pupils achieving grade C or above in GCSE maths rose from 52 per cent in 2006 to 57 per cent last year.