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 projects

Improving the Mathematics Pipeline

This project has two broad aims.

Firstly, it will investigate patterns of excellence and engagement throughout mathematics education in England, from the start of school through to postgraduate study and research. Many aspects of the mathematics pipeline are of research interest, though not all of them are as amenable to influence. The first major ‘leak’ is at 16, from GCSE to A level. Much has been written about this and several policy initiatives have aimed to retain more post-16 students in mathematical study. Yet, research also shows that many young people have been effectively filtered out of the excellence pipeline well before the age of 16, so understanding the long-term pipeline dynamics is important. Not only are the key choice moments at 16, 18, 21 and others important, but so too is what happens within the phases of education that frame those later choices.  

Developing insights on the nature of the mathematics pipeline is, however, only one side of the problem. The second aim of the project is therefore to investigate the opportunities for, limitations on, and potential impact of interventions to enhance access to mathematical excellence in the pipeline. Short, sharp interventions (such as scholarships) might have considerable impact upon those who benefit from them, but they are unlikely to change the system as a whole. Interventions aimed at changing the system run the risk of being diluted by, and/or entangled with, other initiatives so any change in mathematics pathlines are difficult to discern at scale or attribute cause. The project aims to develop a framework for understanding the affordance and constraints of various intervention options.  

Project duration: December 2021 - September 2022
Principal Investigator: Andrew Noyes 
Research Team: Michael Adkins, Chris Brignell, Laurie Jacques, Jake Powell
Funding body: XTX Markets
Further information: Project information


Equity And Quality In Local Learning Systems (EQuaLLS): The Case Of Primary Maths CPD

Schooling in England is complex and evolving. There are multiple models for knowledge exchange, and ways in which teacher professional learning is cultivated (including through hubs, multi-academy trusts and other networks). 

Using primary mathematics as a case study, we are researching how Local Learning Systems (LLS) operate to provide high quality, inclusive professional learning for schools. 

The findings of this research will inform policy and practice, helping school and system leaders to shape and navigate high quality, inclusive and effective local professional development for teachers.

Project duration: September 2021 to December 2022
Principal Investigators: Professors Toby Greany and Andy Noyes
Research Team: Co-investigator: Dr Cath Gripton, Research Fellow: Dr Tom Cowhitt
Funding body: Wellcome Trust
Further information: Project website


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: March 2019 - March 2022
Principal Investigator: Andrew Noyes (Principal Investigator) - previously Roisin Corcoran
Research team: Michael Adkins (Co-Investigator), Stanimira Taneva, Alex Phillips, James Fox, Zhe Liang, Charlene Otieno-Hall
Funding body: Education Endowment Foundation
Further information: 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: December 2018 - March 2023
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


Centre for Research in Mathematics Education

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

+44 (0)115 951 4543