School of Education

Pattern in early years mathematics curriculum

A 25-year review of the status, positioning and conception of pattern in England

This new article from Dr Cath Gripton has been published in Research in Mathematics Education.

Cath is an Assistant Professor in Primary Education and a member of the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education.


Pattern is fundamental to mathematical learning yet pattern has been conspicuously low key within early mathematics curriculum guidance in England despite evidence that it predicts later attainment in mathematics overall. Whilst recent curriculum changes have seen pattern afforded enhanced status, this is within a conception of pattern that marks a significant shift away from the evidence base. Through analysis of 25 years of early mathematics curriculum in England, this article identifies a curriculum landscape where pattern has been afforded little attention and narrowly framed. It finds that positioning pattern as a minor topic in mathematics potentially limits children’s access to “powerful knowledge”, in a critical realist sense, and to learning which is fundamental to deep, connected mathematical understanding. Recognition of pattern as powerful knowledge would position it as an essential, broad, central tenet of early childhood mathematics education and as an entitlement at the heart of national curricula.

Please visit the publisher's website to access the full article.

Posted on Tuesday 26th April 2022

School of Education

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

Contact us