Maths at degree level for pupil aged 12

STUDYING maths at A-level can be a big step up even for the most able of secondary school pupils.

But Warren Li is already working at university degree level despite only being in his first year at Fulford School.

The 12-year-old from Osbaldwick, York, achieved an A* at GCSE maths while he was still at primary school and he is now thought to be one of the youngest students in the world to have ever completed the Kumon maths course.

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He has been working on the maths education programme, in York, after his school lessons since he was five.

The course takes young people of all abilities and ages through a programme which ranges from basic arithmetic through to advanced maths such as trigonometric functions and differential calculus.

The programme is often used by families who feel their child needs extra help to keep up with their peers but is also popular among brighter students who are not being stimulated by their everyday school work.

Warren's Kumon tutor Jenny Scanlon said he was the most able student she had ever worked with.

"I first went to see him when he was five years old to assess him and straight away he was amazing. His ability is jaw-dropping and he is a self-learner. Warren has just taken everything in his stride. He has not been pushed into this by his parents, he is just a natural learner."

The course is the same for every pupil but children learn at their own pace, moving up a programme of 21 levels.

Kumon has four million students worldwide but only a tiny fraction work through to completion and Warren is thought to be one of the youngest pupils in the world to finish it.

Unlike in school lessons, pupils are not allowed to use calculators and are taught traditional arithmetic as the building blocks for more complex maths.

He said: "Kumon has helped me to develop independent learning skills and allowed me to progress in maths at my own pace.

"Last year, I obtained an A* in my maths GCSE. I was also thrilled and relieved when I completed my last Kumon maths worksheet this year.

"My enthusiasm for maths and a longing to learn more is what kept me going all this time.

"Maths is a fabulous subject and I still have a lot to learn even after completing the whole Kumon maths programme. I have learnt a lot throughout this experience and I will continue to use this knowledge in the future to become an environmental scientist and preserve nature."

The 12-year-old's achievements led to him being the special guest speaker last year at Kumon's High Level Student Awards ceremony in Manchester, in front of more than 300 Kumon parents, children and Instructors from across the North of England.

In July, he will be presented with his completion award at the High Level Student Awards ceremony to be held at Liverpool's new BT conference centre.

His mother, Shaohong Tan, said: "We are extremely proud of Warren's achievements, and hope Ricky, Warren's younger brother, will follow in his footsteps.

"I'm so glad to have discovered Kumon many years ago and am very grateful for the encouragement and help from the centre over the years. In fact the boys

have now started Kumon English as well, which they enjoy very much – they are determined to carry on with their Kumon journey."

Ms Scanlon said: "Warren is a great inspiration not only to other students in the study centre but across the North of England. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch him succeed and flourish at every stage and develop into a responsible mature boy."