Our research

Research report

Enhancing primary mathematics teaching and learning

Edited by Professor David Burghes

This report outlines a sustainable method of enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics in the primary phase of education.

In the 21st century, an important goal of education is to develop individuals with a high level of mathematical proficiency which then supports future participation in employment and citizenship. Mathematical knowledge is fundamental to the understanding and development of science and technology as well as being applicable to many areas in the social sciences. It is vitally important for all countries in this highly competitive global economic environment, yet there are continued difficulties in developing a successful education system which supports all pupils to reach their mathematical potential.

There are many reasons for this in the UK (and many other countries with developed economies);

these include:
  • insufficient numbers of quality teachers at secondary level
  • too few primary teachers with adequate mathematical knowledge
  • too much emphasis on testing rather than teaching
  • a very transient teaching workforce compared to other countries.

 Some of these issues are complex and not easy to change even in the medium or long term. UK governments have responded with many short-term initiatives, some of which may result in immediate gains but which are not sustainable over a longer period, neither do they solve the fundamental problems.

Here we outline a sustainable method of enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics in the primary phase of education. It is based on our experiences of implementing the ‘Mathematics Enhancement Programme’ (MEP) in primary schools in the UK but the recommendations for enhancement of primary mathematics are suitable for any implementation and change in the classroom and not just for MEP.