A DURHAM school put a festive slant on a national drive to improve youngsters' numeracy.

The 102 pupils at St Joseph's Roman Catholic School in Gilesgate, Durham City, put their number skills to the test during a two-day Christmaths Challenge.

The four to 11-year-olds encountered a series of number puzzles designed to sharpen their maths before they go Christmas shopping.

The exercise was staged as part of Maths Year 2000 and was the third maths challenge the school has held.

Headteacher Angela Boyle said that the message of the challenge was "it's great fun to do maths.

"Every child found challenges that were appropriate to his or her age and ability and they were able to score points for challenges achieved.''

She said the event was a "super excitement builder'' for the end of term and the festive season.

Many prizes were on offer to youngsters who completed the challenges they faced. They were donated by parents and by stores in and around Durham City.

Mrs Boyle said the school was grateful to everyone who donated a prize.