School of Education

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Catherine Gripton

Assistant Professor in Primary Education, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Catherine Gripton joined the University of Nottingham in August 2018 as an Assistant Professor in Primary Education. She is a researcher in early childhood mathematics, leading projects on early counting, patterning, play and educator professional learning. She supervises MA and PhD students and contributes to primary initial teacher education courses within the School of Education. She has worked in Higher Education since 2004 and gained professional recognition from Advance HE (formerly the Higher Education Academy) as a Senior Fellow in 2011.

Before and alongside working in Higher Education, Catherine was a teacher in four primary schools in Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire. She has been a class teacher for all year groups Nursery to Year 2 (3-7 years) and became an Advanced Skills Teacher in May 2003 for early years and mathematics.

In addition to membership of ATM, BSRLM, EECERA, Early Education, AMET, MA and the Chartered College of Teaching, Catherine is a member of the Early Childhood Mathematics Group and joint MA/ATM primary and early years group. Catherine is an experienced designer of mathematics professional development, including for NCETM and the DfE in England.

Expertise Summary

Catherine's expertise and interests include:

  • Early childhood mathematics
  • Primary mathematics
  • Children's perspectives in education

Catherine's doctoral research explored 5-7 year old children's lived experiences of 'ability' in case study classrooms.

Research Summary

Catherine's research focuses on mathematics education (practice and policy) birth to 11 years.

Catherine is currently the Principal Investigator for an efficacy trial of Counting Collections - Reception (funded by EEF), a development project for Counting Collections - Preschool (funded by EEF) and Maths in Play (funded by the School of Education). She is also part of the research team for Accelerating Global Understandings of ECE (funded by UoN's ICRF) and developing gender sensitive pedagogies in literacy and mathematics (funded by the School of Education).

Selected Publications

Catherine is a member of the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education. Her research supervision areas include:

  • early childhood education
  • children's perspectives on education
  • early and primary mathematics education

She is particularly interested in supervising students engaging in participatory research with young children and research into aspects of early childhood mathematics education.

Past Research

Completed research projects include Local Learning Landscapes (funded by the Wellcome Trust), The importance of spatial thinking for mathematics (ESRC IAA and CEN funded) and ECE Patterning (unfunded). Catherine has previously researched holistic learning in early childhood education including developing early communication and the 'planning for possibilities' approach. Her doctoral research focussed on children's lived experience of 'ability' in schools (including 'ability' grouping).

  • BATES, KATHRYN E., WILLIAMS, ASHLEY Y., GILLIGAN-LEE, KATIE A., GRIPTON, CATHERINE, LANCASTER, ANDREA, WILLIAMS, HELEN, BORTHWICK, ALISON, GIFFORD, SUE and FARRAN, EMILY K., 2023. Practitioners' perspectives on spatial reasoning in educational practice from birth to 7 years BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY. 93(2), 571-590
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, 2023. Pattern in early years mathematics curriculum: a 25-year review of the status, positioning and conception of pattern in England RESEARCH IN MATHEMATICS EDUCATION. 25(1), 3-23
  • CATHERINE GRIPTON, 2023. The principles for appropriate pedagogy in early mathematics: Exploration, apprenticeship and sense-making: Part 1 Mathematics Teaching. 285, 6-8
  • GIFFORD, S., GRIPTON, C., WILLIAMS, H.J., LANCASTER, A., BATES, K.E., WILLIAMS, A.Y., GILLIGAN-LEE, K.A., BORTHWICK, A. and FARRAN, E.K., 2022. Spatial reasoning in early childhood
  • GRIPTON, C., 2022. Putting it in perspective Primary Mathematics. 26(1), 15-19
  • GRIPTON, C., 2022. Developing spatial reasoning across the curriculum Primary Mathematics. 26(1), 6-8
  • FARRAN, E.K., BORTHWICK, A. and GRIPTON, C., 2022. Spatial reasoning and STEAM Primary Mathematics. 26(1), 24-25
  • GRIPTON, C., 2022. Developing mathematical patterning in ECE classrooms: Participatory research with teachers of 3-5 year olds European Early Childhood Education Research Journal.
  • GRIPTON, C. and FARRAN, E.K., 2022. Supporting spatial play in mathematics Early Education Journal. 97(Summer), 13-15
  • GRIPTON, C. and WILLIAMS, H.J., 2022. The principles for appropriate pedagogy in early mathematics: Exploration, apprenticeship and sense-making The Chartered College of Teaching. Available at: <>
  • CATHERINE GRIPTON, GEORGINA HUDSON, TOBY GREANY, ANDREW NOYES and THOMAS COWHITT, 2022. Teacher learning in a shifting school landscape: The implications of academisation for professional development in primary mathematics FORUM: for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education. 64(3), 9631
  • GRIPTON, C. and PAWLUCH, D., 2021. Counting collections in the early years Mathematics Teaching. 275, 6-11
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE and VINCENT, KERRY, 2021. Using small world toys for research: a method for gaining insight into children's lived experiences of school INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RESEARCH & METHOD IN EDUCATION. 44(3), 225-240
  • GRIPTON, C. and KNIGHT, R., 2020. Walking the talk: moving forwards with sustained shared thinking and dialogic teaching. Forum. 62(1), 31-40
  • SERRET, NATASHA and GRIPTON, CATHERINE, eds., 2020. Purposeful Planning for Learning: Shaping learning and teaching in the primary school Routledge.
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, 2020. Children's lived experiences of 'ability' in the Key Stage One classroom: life on the 'tricky table' CAMBRIDGE JOURNAL OF EDUCATION. 50(5), 559-578
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, 2019. Communicating children’s perspectives. In: KENT, JULIE AND MORAN, MOIRA, ed., Communication for the Early Years: A holistic approach Routledge. 27-40
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, 2019. Communicating through the environment. In: KENT, JULIE and MORAN, MOIRA, eds., Communication for the Early Years: A Holistic approach Routledge. 71-84
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, CLAPHAM, ANDREW and WOODFORD, MATT, 2018. Hello from the Other Side: Teaching for Mastery and the Reception teacher In: Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. 38. 1-6
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, 2017. Planning for Endless Possibilities. In: WOODS, ANNIE, ed., Child-initiated Play and Learning: Planning for possibilities in the early years 2nd. David Fulton. 8-22
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, 2016. Nurturing Involvement through Assessment and Planning for Possibilities. In: WOODS, ANNIE, ed., Examining Levels of Involvement in the Early Years: Engaging with children’s possibilities Routledge. 105-117
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE and HALL, VAL, 2016. Diverse Consumers. In: HAWKINS, CYNDY, ed., Rethinking Children as Consumers: The changing status of childhood and young adulthood Taylor & Francis. 11-29
  • GRIPTON, CATHERINE, 2014. Playing with Thinking. In: WOODS, ANNIE, ed., The Characteristics of Effective Learning: Creating and capturing the possibilities in the Early Years Routledge. 71-86

School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

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