Cambridge Mathematics turns three

by Guest Blogger, 27 March 2018
Elizabeth Cater, from Cambridge University Press, looks back at where Cambridge Mathematics started, what has been achieved and where it is going next.

On 21st March 2018, I was lucky enough to chair a roundtable event, bringing together key members of the international mathematics education community. We heard from the Cambridge Mathematics team, led by Director, Lynne McClure about the progress made on the project as it reaches the half-way mark and also about the future direction of the work. We debated important topics in maths education, stimulated by focused, thought-provoking keynotes from leading specialists and joined via video conference by experts from the Mauritius Institute of Education and the Johannes Kepler University in Austria.

The event marked three years since Cambridge Mathematics and its manifesto were launched in 2015 by Director Lynne McClure, where she set out the commitment to championing and securing a world-class mathematics education for all students from 3 – 19 years, applicable to both national and international contexts. Cambridge Mathematics is a collaborative enterprise born from a collaboration between four departments of the University of Cambridge: Cambridge Assessment, Cambridge University Press and the faculties of Mathematics and Education.

The four partners are united by a shared mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest levels of excellence. Thanks to this joint purpose, Cambridge Mathematics is unique in the breadth of expertise and experience it brings together – curriculum design and assessment from Cambridge Assessment, learning materials and teacher support from the Press and both academic and practical experience from the Faculties of Mathematics and Education. We gained insight into how the framework that the Cambridge Mathematics team is building will work. As Rachael Horsman shared a first demo of what the framework will offer, one thing became clear - mathematics is all about connections. These connections, the order in which the different ideas are taught, when they should be taught and the real-life applications of the ideas were themes woven into the discussions throughout the day.

From a personal perspective, I felt honoured to be among such a crowd. It was fascinating to hear Geoff Wake, Tony Gardiner, Alison Clark-Wilson, Merrilyn Goos, Andrew Noyes and Jane Jones introduce us to themes such as which voices to hear when defining the aims and outcomes of a maths curriculum, how technology is impacting teaching and learning and also how assessment can support teachers and learners. It’s clear there are no simple answers and it was extremely valuable to hear the approach the Institute of Education in Mauritius is taking and also how the GeoGebra team are exploring and stretching the use of technology to support maths learning.

The Cambridge Mathematics manifesto is ambitious and we have seen some exciting progress to date. We certainly want to respond to the challenges raised in the session: to improve the way resources and assessments reinforce the emphasis on connections in mathematics; to ensure our approaches reflect digital developments; to think creatively about pooling our skills across Cambridge to make the best use of formative assessment in mathematics. The Cambridge Mathematics framework will be an important part of that tool kit.

It’s only somewhere like Cambridge that we can create the space and the time necessary to do this work well. Our desire now is to make sure we can turn this research and framework into something which can make a practical difference in mathematics classrooms across the world, so please continue to engage with the team and spread the word about the quality of what they’re doing.

Elizabeth Cater
Marketing Director, Cambridge University Press

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