A synthesis of reports related to mathematics education in England


At least 50 reports related to mathematics education in the UK (or in some cases England) were published between the beginning of 2011 and December 2013. More than fifteen were published in 2014, 2015 and 2016. These reports were released into the public domain, were not necessarily subject to the rigorous peer review process of academic research papers, and frequently received some media attention.

I collected these reports, and have some synthesis and analysis of their contents, with the intention understanding something about their intended audience and what influence they may potentially have on schools, teachers, policy makers and other stakeholders in mathematics education (such as students and parents). The key research question, however, is ‘what are the messages we can take from this collection of reports?’


Those interested in mathematics education frequently need to understand something about the characteristics of a set of reports published, such as those published in a one- two- or perhaps five-year time period. For example, an overview of the originators of the reports would provide some information about who is concerned with the topic and a summary of their areas of focus would indicate what these people are concerned about.

It may also be interesting for stakeholders to know about the content of a set of reports. For example, the content might identify problem areas in mathematics education and/or provide recommendations. However, reading the reports to get an informed sense of the content of the reports is time consuming and achieving an overview of both the whole collection and the content of the reports could be difficult.

This blog aims to address this difficulty first by analysing the whole collection of reports and then by synthesising the content of, and messages from, a set of such reports.

What I did (outline: more details here)

The blog is one of the tools I am using  to ‘draw on the wisdom of the mathematics education crowds’ to develop a shared understanding of what the emerging big messages from these reports are. The project also uses a range of new and old technologies, such as Mendeley, LinkedIn, Twitter, conferences, email, face to face conversations and forums to provide various ways in which members of the community are able to provide their comments, concerns or other contributions. At day conferences (March and June 2013) of the British Society of Research in Learning Mathematics (BSRLM), the methodology of the project and the initial findings were presented.

Between January and December 2013, the blog was developed to present the emerging synthesis and analysis of the reports, and and drew together contributions of the community gathered from all the channels through which the crowds contribute their wisdom.

Since then more reports have been added and some work has been done on the perceived causes of the (perceived) problems with mathematics education in England (or UK), and also in South Africa.


Use the links at the top to see more or:

  • for the overall narrative, click here
  • why change is needed (or what the ‘problems’ are) click here and the reasons for these problems click here
  • for methods click here, and more about using old and new technologies click here
  • for the list of reports click here, and for the way I chose the reports to include click here
  • for a quick analysis click here and for my first comments about the new national curriculum (in relation to this project) click here
  • for more about maths and STEM click here and for more about maths and careers click here
  • for recommendations (from the reports) click here

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Author: Marie Joubert

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Posted in education, mathematics, mathematics education, mathematics education policy, mathematics education research | 18 Comments