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Catherine Gripton

Associate Professor in Mathematics Education, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Catherine Gripton joined the University of Nottingham in August 2018. She is a researcher in early and primary mathematics education, leading projects on counting, patterning, play and educator professional learning. She supervises PhD students in the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education and is a Co-Investigator in the prestigious Observatory for Mathematical Education. Catherine has worked in Higher Education since 2004 and has a wealth of experience working on Primary Initial Teacher Education, MA Education and PGCHE courses as well as leading professional development. She 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 taught all year groups from 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, BERA and the Chartered College of Teaching, Catherine has a leadership role in the Early Childhood Mathematics Group and is a member of the joint MA/ATM primary and early years group. She is also on the editorial board for Mathematics Teaching journal. Catherine is an experienced designer of mathematics professional development, including for the government Department for Education in England.

Expertise Summary

Catherine's expertise and interests include:

  • Early childhood mathematics
  • Primary mathematics education
  • Mathematics teacher professional development

Research Summary

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

Catherine is currently working on:

  • Principle Investigator for Counting Collections (Reception) RCT, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation
  • Principle Investigator for Counting Collections (Preschool) development project, funded the Education Endowment Foundation
  • Co-Investigator for the Observatory for Mathematical Education, funded by a philanthropic donor

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

Catherine's previous projects include:

  • Equity and Quality in Local Learning Systems (EQuaLLS), funded by Wellcome Trust
  • The spatial reasoning toolkit; how has it impacted practice, funded by ESRC IAA.
  • The importance of spatial thinking for mathematics; translating research into practice, funded by ESRC IAA and the Centre for Educational Neuroscience
  • Practitioner perspectives on the mathematics in young children's play, funded by the School of Education, a collaboration with Matematikksenteret, Tronheim (Norway)
  • Accelerating Global Understandings of ECE: a partnership between Universitas Pendidikan (Indonesia) and University of Nottingham, funded by UoN's ICRF
  • Developing gender sensitive pedagogies in the literacy and mathematics ECE classroom, funded by the School of Education
  • Early patterning project, unfunded.

She has also researched and written about Sustained Shared Thinking, holistic learning, developing early communication and the 'planning for possibilities' approach. Her doctoral research was on 5- to 7-year old children's lived experience of 'ability' in schools (including 'ability' grouping).

Future Research

With colleagues, Catherine is currently exploring opportunities to research:

  • mathematics teaching for children currently or previously in care
  • preschool practitioners and university mathematicians working together to develop effective mathematics practice for young children (using the 'Young Minds Big Maths' approach)
  • gender sensitive approaches to early childhood mathematics education in a global context

Catherine is currently accepting new doctoral students and invites expressions of interest in the field of early childhood mathematics education (birth to eight years). Approaches should be via email.

  • 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

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