Centre for Research in Mathematics Education (CRME)

The Centres for Excellence in Maths (CfEM) programme

Project information

Start date

December 2018

Principal Investigators

Professor Andy Noyes
Professor Geoff Wake

Reseach Team
Senior Research Fellows

End date

March 2021


The Department for Education

Read project update from the research team - December 2021

Read project update from Geoff Wake - February 2021





Student outcomes in mathematics are of increasing importance to individuals, colleges and society as successive governments seek to ensure that the UK workforce has sufficient quantitative skills for an increasingly data-driven and technology-rich future. There is a growing expectation that young people continue their mathematics education post-16 and the condition of funding for FE colleges requires all students who fell short of a grade 4 GCSE at 16 to retake or work towards retaking the examination. The number of GCSE mathematics resit students has therefore grown significantly in the last few years yet many students have difficulties in improving their grades. 

The DfE has funded the Centres for Excellence in Mathematics (CfEM) programme to address concerns in this area. The programme has established 21 Centres for Excellence, which are geographically spread across England. The DfE has also commissioned a Delivery Partner that comprises a consortium of nine partners coordinated by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF). 

CRME has a central role in the programme being responsible for an ambitious programme of research.  The research comprises two main strands:

  1. Running large-scale interventions to trial approaches to teaching mathematics
  2. Advising on smaller-scale action research projects in participating colleges

The annual cycles of research trials fall into four main themes:

CRME also provides expert advice to Pearson in developing a set of handbooks and materials for the sector, and is having significant input into an extensive programme of teacher professional development.

Partner roles 

Education and Training Foundation (ETF): facilitating a collaborative approach to the intervention programme design and trial process, leading on the development of data sharing, processing agreements etc. and ethical approaches to carrying out the research.

Association of Colleges (AoC): supporting networking and impact across the sector, including a range of national forums and methodology specific networks. As the national membership body for colleges, they will be using their considerable voice in the sector to help champion the work of the Centres and the delivery team and support individual teachers through the networks being established.

Pearson: leading on the preparation of evidence informed resources and handbooks for the sector. The resources and guides needed for work of this kind need to be high quality and robust publications. Pearson bring their market leading expertise to help develop these publications, which as government funded documents will be permanently copyright free and available to download from the ETF website. They will carry out resource audits and work with the Centres as necessary to help develop their ideas into stronger materials, which will remain free for the sector to use and credit the Centres that help develop them.

Behavioural Insights Team (BIT): supporting colleges and wider partners to understand the underlying motivational challenges faced by students studying up to level 2 at post-16. They will be expanding on previous work and research they have carried out in this area and will work with the Centres to understand what more can be done to motivate learners at this challenging time.

EEDI: supporting the delivery consortium and the Centres with a baseline diagnostic approach for all the Centres. As a market leading digital assessment and learning company, EEDI already have substantial evidence of what many young people do and do not understand at GCSE. Their baseline tests will be simple to use, short, and form the basis of national data for the Centres and partners.

Touchconsulting (TC): delivering evidence-based Leadership Training and Professional Development for Post-16 Advanced Practitioners. A long-standing partner of the ETF, Touchconsulting deliver evidence based CPD focusing on building communities of practitioners who can support each other over time. They will underpin the early phases of the programme with training in leadership and teaching methods appropriate to the research and trials being proposed.

PET-Xi: supporting the roll out of large-scale CPD. PET-Xi will work with the delivery partners in later years of the project to bring CPD to as wide an audience as possible, based on the evidence gathered and research carried out during the first years of the programme.

White Rose Maths: are advising on aspects of mastery teaching. The ETF will also work closely with the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and Maths Hubs, to ensure good links and sharing between the programmes.



Further information about the roles of the partners in supporting the development of the CfEM trial project can be found further down on this page.



Centre for Research in Mathematics Education

School of Education
University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

+44 (0)115 951 4543