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Aoibhinn does her sums but hasn't asked for a single cent as maths ambassador...

FORMER Rose Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain hasn't claimed a cent in expenses for her role as a Department of Education ambassador.

Ryan Tubridy's girlfriend is fronting a high-profile campaign to improve maths standards in schools as part of a scheme known as Project Maths.

However, the Herald can reveal that she has been doing it all for free.

Aoibhinn is entitled to travel and subsistence expenses for board meetings and other appearances but has yet to claim any.

The Department of Education has told the Herald that she was hand-picked for the job because of her celebrity status as well as the fact that she is a maths teacher.

It was former minister Batt O'Keeffe who asked her to join the Project Maths Implementation Support Group (PMISG).

"[She was chosen] on the basis of being a teacher in a Project Maths school with a strong public profile, who could give credible support for the programme, and give a practising teacher's perspective," said a department spokesperson.

"No remuneration was made to any member of the group. They were entitled to claim travel and expenses incurred at normal public sector rates, but few did so.

"Ms Ni Shuilleabhain received no payments and she did not request any," the spokesperson added.

"The Department provided funds to meet the payment costs of a substitute teacher in the school where necessary to facilitate Ms Ni Shuilleabhain's attendance at meetings. The PMISG has met eight times to date -- seven during the school year."

Aoibhinn became a household name when she won the Rose of Tralee in 2005, and has been a regular on TV since.

She was recently a guest on RTE radio's Morning Ireland programme as part of her role with the group.

"Given that the project was at that time only in 24 schools who were receiving ongoing support from the Project Maths Team and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the department was in a position to choose a teacher who was known to be a strong and articulate advocate for the aims of Project Maths, and who could provide valuable insight on the implementation of the programme," the spokesperson explained.

The Group published a report on the Department's website in June 2010, and Aoibhinn continues to work with the group to attract more students to higher maths.