School of Education

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Peter Gates

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences



I joined the University of Nottingham in 1993, having spent time as Lecturer at both the University of Bath and the Open University. Before that I was a mathematics teacher, and advisor in Moçambique. I graduated in Mathematics from Manchester with a BSc and MSc in Applied Statistical Analysis and Random Processes, and obtained an MA in Education from the Open University in 1989 and PhD from Nottingham in 2000 titled "A study of the structure of the professional orientation of two teachers of Mathematics: A sociological approach".

I am an Associate Professor in Education and a member of the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education. Although I have a mathematical background I have gravitated to become a sociologist of education with a particular interest in equity and social justice.

I teach on the MA in Educational Research Methods, the MA in Learning and Teaching and supervise research students on PhD, MPhil, MRes, EdD courses.

For many years I taught on the PGCE course for mathematics teachers and have edited a book for new mathematics teachers titled Issues in Mathematics Teaching published by RoutledgeFalmer.

Along with Tony Cotton, I was the founder of the Mathematics Education and Society (MES) group which organises biennial international conferences - Nottingham 1998, Portugal 1999, Denmark 2002, Australia 2005, Portugal 2008.

I am also the list administrator for three e-mail discussion lists: mathematics-education - which links around 500 maths educators from across the world mes-conf - which links those interested in the Mathematics Education and Society Conference pme-mail - which provides a forum for member of PME

Having said all that of course my main interests in life are my family, Jane Hart, Sophie (b. 1994) and Megan (b 1998) who keep me sane and drive me mad.

Research Summary

I supervise a large number of research students in the areas of social justice and education, child labour, mathematics teacher development, mathematics education and social class.

My research interests are related to equity, justice and social class issues in education and development. In particular I am interested in working in:

School to work transitionsMathematics Education and social justiceSociology of learning mathematics in schoolInformation technology and social class in schoolsClassroom practices and teacher ideologyMathematics education and social exclusionCritical social research methodsSocial class influences on pupil learning of mathematicsParental involvement and exclusion in schoolsPupil grouping in school mathematics and the influence of social class

I also act as a supervisor for research students working for MPhil and PhD degrees in these areas and am happy to discuss possible projects with prospective students.

Because I feel research has both an illuminative and an emancipatory capacity much of my work is located in and around issues of social class and equity in Nottingham. I currently mange several research projects:

<Young Participation in Higher Education in the Parliamentary Constituency of Nottingham North>

<Understanding Teenage Pregnancy in Nottingham City>

<The influence of location of provision and recruitment to FE courses in Nottingham>

I also manage an <international directory of mathematics education researchers>.

Recent Publications

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

  • mathematics education and social exclusion
  • critical social research methods
  • mathematics education and social justice
  • parental involvement and exclusion in schools
  • pupil grouping in school mathematics and the influence of social class
  • social class influences on pupil learning of mathematics
  • sociology of learning and teacher ideology

Research proposals: please email Peter if you would like to discuss the appropriateness of your research topic. He would welcome proposals based around the following projects from appropriately qualified applicants:

National research cultures in mathematics education

Published research literature in international journals purports to be objective, "state of the art" reflections of intellectual activity. However the literature is dominated by western capitalist economies, communicating through the medium of English. In what ways does this linguistic and cultural dominance give access to, or silence other voices in mathematics education research. There is a need to understand different national practices in mathematics education and to examine the distortions caused by the need to fit in with dominant agendas and discourses.

Visualisation, mental modelling and learning mathematics

As we learn more about how the brain functions it is becomes clearer how important visual forms of representation are to learning mathematics. However, it is less clear that visual modes of thinking and representing are prevalent in mathematics classrooms. Indeed much pedagogy seems to depend greatly upon textual and linguistic forms rather than visual spatial forms. There is a need to explore how children use mental imagery in coming to understand mathematical ideas and processes and in how mathematics teachers themselves have sensitivity to visual forms.

Mathematics in transition between school and work

The gap between the forms of mathematics that young people encounter in school and the mathematics used in workplace scenarios has always been significant. Indeed, this is so significant it is sometimes argued that not only are school mathematics and workplace mathematics quite different, but also that the whole idea of the possibility of transference is more problematic that sometimes thought. There is a need to understand the various forms of mathematics, but also to explore the possibilities for curriculum change in schools.

Mathematical underachievement and pupil social-economic backgrounds

It is very well known that pupils from poorer and more disadvantaged socio-economic background do worse in mathematics than those young people form more affluent neighbourhoods. There is however a need to examine a number of questions that arise from this. What micro-processes go on to sustain this stratification at the level of the classroom? What aspects of pupils' cognitive development might be connected to pupils early upbringing?. How some less-affluent pupils actually do succeeded against the odds? What can schools do to buck the trend and support children from poorer home backgrounds?

See also: School of Education research supervision areas.

  • GATES, PETER and JORGENSEN, ROBYN, eds., 2015. Shifts in the Field of Mathematics Education: Stephen Lerman and the turn to the Social Springer.
  • JORGENSEN, R., GATES, P. and ROPER, V., 2014. Structural exclusion through school mathematics:: Using Bourdieu to understand mathematics as a social practice Educational Studies in Mathematics. 87(2), 221-239
  • GATES, P. and GUO, X., 2014. How British-Chinese parents support their children:: A view from the regions Educational Review. 66(2), 168-191
  • GATES, PETER, 2014. Equity and Access in Mathematics Education. In: LERMAN, STEPHEN, ed., Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education Springer. 217-221
  • GATES, P. and NOYES, A., 2013. School Mathematics as Social Classification. In: LESLIE, D. and MENDICK, H., eds., Debates in Mathematics Education Routlege.
  • HINSLIFF-SMITH, K., GATES, P. and LEDUCQ, M., 2012. Persistence, how do they do it?: a case study of Access to Higher Education learners on a UK Diploma/BSc Nursing programme Nurse Education Today. 32(1), 27-31
  • MTIKA, P. and GATES, P., 2011. What do secondary teachers say about teaching as a profession of their "choice" in Malawi? Teaching and Teacher Education. 27(2), 424-433
  • MTIKA, P. and GATES, P., 2010. Developing learner-centred education among secondary trainee teachers in Malawi: the dilemma of appropriation and application International Journal of Educational Development. 30(4), 396-404
  • GATES, P and AYOOLA, L. AND TAYLOR, M., 2010. Understanding Teenage Fathers: Creating futures, building families University of Nottingham.
  • GATES, P., 2010. Beyond Belief: Understanding the mathematics teacher at work Saarbrücken, Germany: LAP Publishers.
  • GATES, P. and JORGENSEN, R., 2009. Foregrounding social justice in mathematics teacher education Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. 12(3), 161-170
  • GATES, P. AND BYROM, T., 2009. Understanding Teenage Pregnancy University of Nottingham.
  • ROPER, V and GATES, P., 2008. The Subtle but Pervasive Influence of Class and Home in Learning School Mathematics In: The first century of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (1908-2008). Reflecting and shaping the world of mathematics education. 282-292
  • GATES, P. BROWN, E. CLEGG, C. DIN, S., 2008. Leadership in Adult Community Education: Political Decisions and the Development of Social Capital in Nottingham Centre for Excellence in Leadership, Lancaster University.
  • GATES, P., COWARD, S. and BYROM, T., 2007. Young participation in higher education in the parliamentary constituency of Nottingham North School of Education, University of Nottingham.
  • BYROM, R., THOMSON, P. and GATES, P., 2007. My school has been quite pushy about the Oxbridge thing Improving Schools. 10(1), 29-40
  • GATES, P., 2006. Going beyond belief systems: exploring a model for the social influence on mathematics teacher beliefs Educational Studies in Mathematics. 63(3), 347-369
  • GATES, P., 2006. The place of equity and social justice in the history of PME. In: GUTIÉRREZ, A. and BOERO, P., eds., Handbook of research on the psychology of mathematics education: past, present and future Rotterdam: Sense. 367-402
  • ADER, E. and GATES, P., 2006. Use of Cognitive Conflicts on Pupil Misconceptions for Metacognitive Development In: 30th PME conference.
  • GATES, P. and VISTRO-YU, C.P., 2003. Is mathematics for all?. In: BISHOP, A.J., CLEMENTS, M.A., KEITEL, C., KILPATRICK, J. and LEUNG, F. K.S., eds., Second international handbook of mathematics education Part 1. Dordrecht: Kluwer. 33-74
  • GATES, P., 2002. Excavating and Mapping the Social Landscape of Beliefs In: Proceedings of the Third International Conference of Mathematics Education and Society. 272-282
  • GATES, P., 2001. Mathematics Teacher Belief Systems: exploring the social foundations. In: VAN DEN HEUVEL-PANHUIZEN, M, ed., Proceedings of the 25th International Conference of Psychology of Mathematics Education, Utrecht University, 11 17 July 2001 3. 17-24
  • GATES, P., ed., 2001. Issues of Equity in Mathematics Education:Defining the Problem,Seeking Solutions.In Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Schools. London: Routledge.
  • GATES, P., 2001. What is an/at issue in Mathematics education?. In: Issues in Mathematics Teaching London; RoutledgeFalmer. 7-20
  • GATES, P., ed., 2001. Issues in Mathematics Teaching London: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • GATES, P., 2000. Markets, Marx, Modernity and Mathematics Education In: Proceedings of the Second International Mathematics Education and Society Conference. 25-30
  • GATES, P., 1999. Mapping discursive structure. Working with habitus, discourse and ideology to explore the politics of mathematics teaching In: Proceedings of the British Society for Researach into Learning Mathematics. 3-17
  • GATES, P., 1999. Using NUD*IST to model mathematics teacher perspectives In: Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. 25-31
  • GATES, P., 1998. Mathematics Education and Society In: Proceedings of MEAS1 Conference.
  • GATES, P., 1997. Mathematics Education and Society: Radical Visions and Socialist Perspectives Chreods. 11, 2-6
  • GATES, P., 1997. The importance of social structure in developing a critical social psychology of mathematics education PME CONFERENCE. CONF 21(VOL 2), 305-312
  • GATES, PETER and TONG, HOWEL, 1976. On Markov Chain Modeling of some weather data Journal of Applied Meterology. 15, 1145-1151

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