Alumni Services

Alexander F. L. Newberry

After swapping the music industry for teaching, Alexander F. L. Newberry's work as a private tutor led him to develop an educational game that is now being rolled out in schools across the US.


Alexander F. L. Newberry


MA (Hons) Medieval History

Year of Graduation 2003

Your time at the University  

Alexander Newberry

1: Under the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, and Brewster House

A real home from home. Settling in to uni life - new friends

To meet. Late night Marmaris. Early Monday morning

Lectures with McKenney blow away the cobwebs. Football

For the fresher’s side – a debut goal! Ski Club, the highlands,

Race for Edinburgh in Austria; I strip for the ‘Big Splash’ and

Get my picture in the Sunday Times.


2:  Italian in the tall tower at George Square – 13 flights of stairs.

Not remembering what ‘Come Va’ meant. Toilet graffiti

In the library – a pre social media place for angry folk to vent

Their spleen. Warrender Park Crescent and the Blue Meanies; drinks

On Bruntsfield links, golf by the Firth – a burnt out car on the 17th.

Friendships cemented, then partings of ways.

These were 2 years of halcyon days.


3: The heavenly Italian Erasmus gap. Leaning towers, 9/11

And the world will ever be the same again. Antipasti and prosecco,

Rimini alone in birthday rain for art history’s sake, endless nights

Of dancing. Darts at the Cluricaune, the luckless snake, the mob –

Assassination! 10 centuries and more in every glance of every walk

Down every colonnaded street, the buzz of vespae

And the talk of Latin feet.


4: Half a degree to go, a different kind of pressure as the

Time begins to flow more quickly twixt the open

Ended spaces of what might or might not be.

The days get longer and the nights get lighter; yet

Not brighter. Sunset with a girl at Gullane, then the scratch of anxious pens, and suddenly

All is done. Back from whence I came, or thereabouts,

This pretty race, this pretty race – so suddenly run.

Your experiences since leaving the University

Thanks to Michael Angold, my history prof, I got a place at Oxford after I graduated Edinburgh, to read Byzantine Studies. At Oxford I continued to write songs, a hobby of mine throughout university, and won the UK Songsearch Rock Category. This triggered a decision to have a crack at the music industry, which was originally meant to last one year but ended up lasting 10. About half way through this odyssey, which took in two record deals, European touring and a support slot with Foreigner, I began teaching as a private tutor to make ends meet, and thus stumbled upon my eventual career.

Initially tutoring classics, I fell into maths tuition by accident, and without thinking too much about it began to develop products which I felt would help students. These developed into a range of motivational brain training books, (now 35 strong) and subsequently, a game, Numberella, which after four years of development has now been released and is being played in 14 US states. It was recently adopted by the gifted programme of Bulloch County, Georgia, and is in the early stages of a roll out into the Detroit Public Schools system. Numberella is also being used by various schools in the south of England and a trial has recently started in an old people’s home in Essex. In September 2018 I was able to close a funding round based on this portfolio and an online platform (currently under development), which combines my brain training and motivational methodology in a scalable and low maintenance format.

My educational focus is on improving the numeracy (and in due course literacy) of the bottom 30% who never achieve the fluency they need to make meaningful progress and form negative associations around mathematics. From my one-on-one work I know that no child is a lost cause – they merely need to be shown a path which they can believe in, given work which accelerates their processing without sacrificing enjoyment, and they will very quickly gain the competence they need to operate on a par with their peers. It seems something of a statement of the obvious to say that numeracy matters, but I think perhaps people don’t realise quite how much. Fluency in numbers impacts how people think, steering them towards logical and statistical analysis which ultimately helps them make rational decisions. My mission is to improve numeracy worldwide – I feel that doing so will make a genuine difference to the future, and there is nothing more inspirational to me than that idea.

My mission is to improve numeracy worldwide – I feel that doing so will make a genuine difference to the future, and there is nothing more inspirational to me than that idea.

Alexander F. L. NewberryInventor, Numberella

Alumni wisdom

Whilst you’re at university you have the great luxury of time. Use this time to work out what it is you enjoy the most. It may not be your degree subject! Remember that the purpose of your education is not to make you an expert in a particular field, but to elevate the level at which you can think.

Pitch yourself at your passion. If you are passionate about what you do you will have the energy to work hard – and work hard you must, if you wish to succeed. Don’t be afraid to try things, and be ready to fail – but treat failure as a learning opportunity, not the death knell to your dreams. Combine all these things and you will be a success.

Related links

Numberella (external link)

Last updated November 2018