Centre for Research in Mathematics Education (CRME)

CRME Projects

CRME members have substantial experience in relation to a range of research approaches and methodologies including small-scale comparative studies to large-scale design research studies.

Current and recent projects

Glasses in Classes

This ground-breaking project will look to increase the number of young children who need glasses to wear them, with the aim of improving their academic, social and emotional learning long-term.

In the UK, health services screen for vision problems in reception year and share results with parents, but not schools. Approximately 15% of students fail the screening and roughly a third do not obtain the glasses or the prescription needed. Even if a student does receive glasses, they may be broken, lost, or not worn in school.

The Glasses in Classes project involves the first ever UK study to test the impact of a school-based intervention to support the wearing of glasses in young children and measure subsequent improvement of the child’s academic achievement and health including vision.  

The vision screening results will be shared with schools, and staff will be trained to support students and their families to get glasses and encourage students to wear them, funding will also be provided for a second pair of glasses for students to keep at school.

This project is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). The implementation involves a collaboration between the NHS Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and the University of Leeds.

The evaluation of the intervention involves a rigorous 100 school randomised controlled trial study to examine the impact of the Glasses in Classes intervention on academic achievement and visual acuity. The evaluation will also examine whether the school-based intervention improved adherence to glasses wear. The process evaluation will examine whether the intervention was implemented as intended.

Project duration: 2018-22
Investigators: Andrew Noyes (Principal Investigator) - previously Roisin Corcoran
Michael Adkins (Co-Investigator), Stanimira Taneva, Alex Phillips, James Fox, Zhe Liang, Charlene Otieno-Hall
Funding body: Education Endowment Foundation
Further information: Project website


Mathematics in Further Education Colleges


In recent years a great deal of policy and research attention has centred on advanced post-16 mathematics. This project focussed instead on mathematics within vocational pathways in Further Education (FE) colleges in England with a particular emphasis on the progression of those with low attainment at GCSE.

The project took a multi-scale view of this complex system and the interlinking factors that shape the learning experiences and trajectories of young people with mathematics. This included a close examination of the intersection between their mathematical and vocational learning and the ways in which mathematics policies and practices are enacted in FE colleges.


The project aimed to produce robust, evidence-based advice for policymakers, college managers and practitioners on the pressing issue of how to improve the quality of mathematics education in England’s further education colleges. This will inform the future agenda for research and development in this critically important phase of mathematical/vocational education.


The project employed a mixed-methods research design to investigate the complex interplay between factors that directly or indirectly affect students’ mathematical trajectories, outcomes and vocational learning. It assessed the effectiveness of current policies and practices and the key issues framing mathematics education in colleges.

A multi-scale approach was used to investigate significant levels of FE mathematics education:

  • the national policy landscape, patterns of learner engagement over time
  • college level policy enactment and curriculum implementation
  • teacher workforce skills and motivations
  • student learning of mathematics in vocational contexts

The project will produce the following:

  • A state of the art literature review of relevant research and a policy trajectory analysis of mathematics in FE since 2000
  • Analyses of who gets what mathematics qualifications in FE (using the Individualised Learner Record) and of students’ trajectories into employment (using the Next Steps Survey)
  • Rich institutional case studies and cross-case analyses of mathematics policy enactment, curriculum provision, learner pathways, workforce training and development needs
  • A survey and analysis of the mathematics teacher workforce in General Further Education colleges which will complement existing workforce data reports

Duration of project: 2017-19
Investigator: Andrew Noyes (Principal Investigator) 
Funding body: The Nuffield Foundation
Further details: 
Project website


Centres for Excellence in Maths (CfEM)


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). 

The Centre for Research in Mathematics Education (CRME) has a central role in the programme, being responsible for an ambitious programme of research. The research comprises two main strands:

  • Running large-scale interventions to trial approaches to teaching mathematics
  • 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. 

 Read a project update from Professor Geoff Wake - February 2021

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 enactment 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. 

Duration of project: 2018-21
Investigator: Andrew Noyes (Principal Investigator), Geoff Wake, Michael Adkins, Marc North, Marie Joubert, Diane Dalby
Funding body: The Department for Education
Further details: 
Project website



The Maths-for-Life project investigated the effectiveness of a professional development programme that aims to improve outcomes in GCSE resit examinations. 

The project built on previous work by the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education that has developed a wide range of resources to support dialogic teaching based on provoking cognitive conflict in key areas of mathematical thinking. In particular it used materials from the Standards Unit Box (Improving Learning in Mathematics) and other resources developed over many years by Malcolm Swan and colleagues.

In the first phase of the project, 2017-18, a team of maths leads drawn from colleges and schools in the post-16 sector worked with the Nottingham team to develop the professional development programme. This focussed on five key areas of the GCSE curriculum that underpin learning of mathematics and which are proven to present students with difficulties and affect GCSE performance. It also developed five 'signature' pedagogies that support dialogic teaching. The programme  encouraged collaborative work with colleagues by including a modified element of lesson study.

The second year of the project, 2018-19, saw a randomised controlled trial of the professional development programme. This involved approximately 50 teachers in the intervention programme led by the lead teachers developed in phase one. The trial involved an equivalent number of teachers’ students who experienced 'business as usual'. The intention was to determine the effectiveness of the approach in improving resit students' GCSE outcomes in mathematics and to then continue the programme beyond the trial.

Duration of project: 2017-20
Investigator: Geoff Wake (Principal Investigator) 
Funding body: Education Endowment Foundation
Further details: 
Project website


Evaluation of Young Enterprise: Maths in Context

The evaluation of the Young Enterprise: Maths in Context intervention project sought to improve children’s financial literacy with an expected impact on their achievement in GCSE mathematics.

The design was a two-armed randomised controlled trial involving 130 secondary schools, with 65 schools allocated to receive training and resources, and 65 schools to a business-as-usual control group. The evaluation was set up as an efficacy trial. Efficacy trials aim to test whether an intervention can work under ideal conditions and when there is close involvement from the original developer. 

Duration of project: 2017-19
Investigators: University of Nottingham: Geoff Wake (Principal Investigator), Shaaron Ainsworth, Michael Adkins, Sheila Evans. UCL: Jeremy Hodgen. Programme Developer: Young Enterprise.
Funding body: Education Endowment Foundation
Further details: 
Project website


LeMaPS: Lessons for Mathematical Problem Solving

This project seeks proof-of-concept of new and sustainable models of partnerships that support professional learning in secondary school mathematics with the involvement of Higher Education. The focus is on improving students' problem-solving capabilities in mathematics.

Duration of project: 2014-15
Investigator: Geoff Wake (Principal Investigator)
Funding body: Nuffield Foundation
Further details: 
Project website


Centre for Research in Mathematics Education

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

+44 (0)115 951 4543