Maths whiz Liam makes squad for UK Olympiad

Maths genius Liam Hughes, who is a student at Robert Smyth Academy, Market Harborough.
Maths genius Liam Hughes, who is a student at Robert Smyth Academy, Market Harborough.

A student from a Harborough school stands a chance of representing the UK in an international mathematics contest in South Africa.

Robert Smyth Academy’s Liam Hughes, is the only student from a comprehensive to be chosen for the UK’s International Maths Olympiad squad, which is usually the domain of private schools.

Liam has drawn lofty comparisons to Nobel Prize winner William Bragg who attended the town school in the late 1800s and who gained the prize for his work developing X-rays.

The squad of nine students selected for the Olympiad were shortlisted from 20 students in the UK after sitting for a pair of four-and-half-hour exams at Trinity College, Cambridge.

They will go on to attend a training camp at Oundle School in May, where a final selection of six, plus three reserves, will go on to represent the UK against the rest of the world’s teams in Cape Town, South Africa.

Robert Smyth’s senior maths team, which includes Liam, has twice come seventh in the national challenge competitions and won the regional in contests in the Northants and Cambrigeshire areas hands down.

Colin Dean, head teacher of the school, said: “He is a superb ambassador for the academy and the maths faculty, which was recognised as outstanding recently by Ofsted.”

Liam was first recognised as a talented mathematician while aged seven at Wilbarston Primary School.

His test scores were way above average.

He was entered into the national Junior Maths Challenge, designed for students up to Year 8, while he was still at primary school and scored 87 out of 135 – outstripping the mark needed for gold by 21 points.

Since the age of eight he has worked with Robert Smyth maths teacher Howard Fay and says he has taught him a lot of tricks and shortcuts that have assisted him in challenges and during the Olympiad.

Liam, who lives in Desborough, previously told the Mail: “Maths is my favourite subject because it’s logical and it comes naturally to me. I can intuitively see how to start problems. I like maths because I can do it.”

Judith Green, a science teacher at the school, said last year: “It’s not going too far to say Liam is probably the most talented student to attend Robert Smyth since Nobel Prize winner William Bragg.

“Liam is a truly exceptional mathematician.”