A TEAM of teenage whiz kids from Colchester Sixth Form College have reached the national final of a prestigious mathematics competition.

Year 12 students Abbie Gossage and Matthew Pyall and year 13's Arlo Morris and Tom Hanmer are the first students in history from the college to make the final of the Senior Team Maths Challenge.

The youngsters, who clearly know their pi from their Pythagoras, comfortably saw off competition from 17 schools across Suffolk and north Essex at the regional heats.

Across three rounds they faced complicated maths-based problems, some of which would make Einstein himself wince.

There were also relay challenges which saw them split into pairs and they had to solve a complicated crossword where number problems were the clues - a little bit more difficult than the one you find in the Sunday paper.

Maths teacher Mike Frost has been taking students from the North Hill college to the competition for several years.

"The mathematical content does not go much beyond A-Level but it is the problem solving which is such a high standard and puts it way beyond what they learn in class," he said.

"I have been getting them prepared for the style of the questions but to be honest it is all their work.

"We have got some pretty special students in the team this year. They are a pleasure to work with.

"It is fantastic what they have done, Colchester Royal grammar School are usually the winners of the regional competition.

"It is the first time ever the college has got to the final."

The grand final, which takes place in London on February 4, will be another step up for the team.

They'll face 80 teams whose members are probably amongst the best young mathematicians in Britain.

The team will also be one of the few state funded education facilities to take part.

Mr Frost said: "I have a taken a team from my last school to the final before and there aren't normally many state schools involved.

"We ended up coming in 68th place I think it was. The standard is phenomenal.

"The same private school has won the last three years in a row.

"We will see how we do but we are going for the experience."

He added: "It is really an achievement to get this far."

However, no matter what happens at the national final, it is unlikely to be the end of the foursomes' mathematical careers.

Mr Frost said they all have big futures ahead of them.

"I am fairly sure they will also pursue careers in maths," he said.

"Two are already applying to study it and the other two are very keen to do so."