Expert partners

Zahra Alijah

Manchester city councillor and PGCE secondary science lecturer.

Dr Sophie Batchelor, Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University

I am a Research Fellow in Mathematical Cognition at the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University, funded by an ESRC Future Research Leader’s Fellowship (2014-2017). My research looks at the dispositional factors affecting children’s numerical development. A significant part of my doctoral work (2011-2014) looked at mathematics anxiety in primary school aged children. I am interested in how and why this anxiety manifests, and how it is linked to the development of mathematical skills.

Sian Bristow

I am currently an Assistant Educational Psychologist working for Salford City Council. I have 7 years of qualified Mathematics teaching experience (including two years as Head of Mathematics and 4 years as a GSCE Mathematics Expert Examiner), working in schools based in areas with high levels of deprivation. I hold an interest in Maths anxiety.

Julie Connor

I have been employed since September 2015 as Maths Lead at Channelling Positivity, Nottingham. This is an alternative provision for 13-16 year olds. Prior to this, I was a Maths teacher at Yewlands Academy, Sheffield through the TeachFirst graduate programme. I achieved my BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath and during my third year spent twelve months as a Research Associate at Sydney University. My undergraduate dissertation was based on factors affecting students’ achievement in mathematics and reading. I have recently completed my Masters dissertation, titled “The relationships between test anxiety, academic buoyancy and achievement in mathematics”. I am very aware of the external pressures put on young people to achieve, so I see an important part of my role is to alleviate anxiety and help students to enjoy maths.

Terry Dawson, Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI)

I am a curriculum developer working for MEI. I worked in the steel industry before completing a BEd (Hons) in Secondary Mathematics in 1991. I have taught in secondary schools for over 21 years, including 13 years as Head of Mathematics, and 2 years as an Assistant Headteacher and Local Authority Consultant. I joined MEI’s curriculum team in April 2013 to be the lead developer on the Critical Maths project which fed into the development of the new Core Maths qualification; this project included working on teaching resources, and related teaching and learning approaches. I have developed and led CPD sessions for teachers and subject leaders, and been involved in lesson study sessions. My other Curriculum Development work includes working on Cre8ate Maths and professional development videos for the ETF Maths Pipeline.
Whilst working in the classroom, I have witnessed how maths anxiety affects learning. As mathematical thinking and reasoning are crucial to so many aspects of work and life, I am interested in learning more about what can be done about this.

Stella Dudzic, Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI)

I am MEI Programme Leader for Curriculum. I taught for 22 years in secondary schools, including 9 years as head of department, before joining MEI in 2006. In addition to my work in curriculum development, I am a textbook author and editor and regularly lead CPD for teachers. I was the 2012 Royal Statistical Society Guy Lecturer for schools.
Having worked on development of qualifications and resources at secondary level, as well as having taught for many years, it is apparent to me that many students feel anxious about mathematics and that this makes it harder for them to either enjoy mathematics or to achieve success. I am interested in learning more about what can be done about this.

Adam Gifford

• Headteacher of an Outstanding 2 form entry primary school
• Strategic Primary Leader with North West 1 Maths Hub
• First Primary Maths SLE in England
• Maths Recovery and NZ Numeracy Project diagnostic trained
• Primary lead for Singapore Textbook Project – North West Maths Hub
• Specialising in children’s mathematical conceptual development
My interest in the anxieties associated with maths is born out of teaching children and observing the impact anxieties have on their conceptual development, self-esteem and engagement with learning.
My focus has been on conceptual development assessment and the relationship this has with anxiety towards the subject and the approaches schools and educators use to try to address this.
Diagnostic assessment data and subsequent programmes to address misconceptions would suggest educators will often address misconceptions by developing procedural processes rather than conceptual development, often resulting in ongoing misconceptions, anxieties and a disconnect from the subject.

Amanda Hipkiss

I am a PhD researcher at the University of Manchester, looking into access arrangements at GCSE, including those associated with anxiety. I was a mainstream secondary SENCO for 25 years and a teacher for over 30 so I have worked with students affected with anxiety. I am particularly interested in how understanding anxiety related to maths can affect provision to support pupils when they take high stakes examinations.

Tara Hollins

In my role at the University of St Mark and St John I work with undergraduate and postgraduate teacher trainees as well as working directly with students training through a school based route. As maths subject lead in the primary team I plan the maths programme and work with students to develop their capacity and understanding of mathematics for teaching primary aged children. I have direct experience of many students who express anxiety and low confidence when they enter the programme, and as part of the monitoring process I track their self-perceptions in their confidence and competence in understanding maths and teaching maths. I have also supervised a number of undergraduate dissertation projects that have explored different aspects of maths anxiety in primary aged children.
More recently I have worked on a small-scale project with the Plymouth Teaching School Alliance which examined the effectiveness of a subject knowledge enhancement course for maths for qualified teachers. The money from this project came from the NCTL who funded it as a ‘teach and learn’ project around the introduction of the new primary curriculum. Before and after measures in this project looked at teacher attitudes towards maths as well as their understanding of mathematics. The outcomes of the project were presented at the British Education Research Association conference and the European Educational Research Association conference in 2015 but have not been written up for publication yet.

Thomas Loughran

I have been teaching statistics in some capacity for 5 years now with a particular focus on students who have no previous experience in using numbers at both undergraduate and postgraduate. I am particularly interested in how to break down the initial anxiety barrier students often experience when they first encounter datasets – in my experience this has been a major contributor to students disengaging or losing confidence in their capacity to understand.

John MacInnes

I am Strategic Advisor to the British Academy on Quantitative skills, Professor of Sociology at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the Council of the RSS. I am interested in barriers to wider and better understanding and use of simple maths and stats, especially by social scientists.
I am also interested in the ways in which learners’ real or imagined ‘fear of maths’ can be used as an excuse for avoiding numerical work.

Kevin Ralston

I am currently involved in a NCRM project researching quantitative methods pedagogy. We are examining how quantitative methods are taught in the social sciences and are undertaking primary data collection and focusing on themes including statistical anxiety and QM ‘understanding’ (see Prior to this I have undertaken work examining health inequalities, with the Medical Research Council, and young people not in education employment and training (NEET), for the Scottish Government. In addition I maintain an ongoing interest in researching ‘family’ and social processes around childbearing and fertility.

Andrew Russell

Andrew Russell is Professor of Politics and former Head of Politics at the University of Manchester. He has considerable experience of working in policy – related arena. He served on the Electoral Commission’s Project Board on the Age of Electoral Majority (which led to the lowering of the minimum age of candidature in all UK elections). He was on the advisory Panel for the Youth Citizenship Commission. He served as mentor for the Local Governance Initiative/ Open Society Foundation’s work on the application of youth policy in Central East Europe. He was also part of the Commonwealth Observer Team for the 2009 Elections in Mozambique. He is currently a member of the Board of the Campaign for Social Science.

Beth Ryan

I am currently a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester studying MSc Sociological Research and affiliated with the Science and Engineering Educational Research Innovation Hub (SEERIH). I am collaborating with SEERIH to explore how professional teacher identities are enacted in the primary science classroom and impacted by personal histories and the contextual realities of the school. I have previously researched mathematical identities in young children using creative interviewing methods, with a keen interest in how individuals come to identify with the subject of mathematics and establish negative or positive dispositions throughout their education. Recently I have explored children’s perceptions of nature of mathematics and children’s understandings of the role of mathematicians in contemporary society. I have also contributed to a recent study investigating children’s funds of knowledge in mathematics, specifically the hybridity between the home and school learning environment. In doing so, I have developed an awareness of issues of mathematical anxiety in both young learners and primary school teachers, particularly those who do not possess strong educational backgrounds in STEM.

Neil Sheldon, Royal Statistical Society

I have 40 years’ experience as a teacher of computer science, mathematics, statistics and philosophy. I have been an examiner of mathematics and statistics for over 30 years. I am currently Vice President of the Royal Statistical Society with responsibility for education and statistical literacy.
Interest in maths anxiety: Universal data literacy and quantitative skills are central aims of the RSS’s data manifesto. They are essential for good decision making, for our prosperity as a nation, and for democracy and trust. These aims can only be achieved if all young people become capable, confident and fluent in mathematics. It should be as unacceptable to be innumerate as it is to be illiterate.

Katie Steckles

Katie is a mathematician based in Manchester, who gives talks and workshops on different areas of maths. She finished her PhD in 2011, and since then has talked about maths in schools, at science festivals, on BBC radio, at music festivals, as part of theatre shows and on the internet. She enjoys doing puzzles, solving the Rubik’s cube and baking things shaped like maths.

Katy Turner

I have been an Educational Psychologist for 17 years having trained at Leeds (BSc Psychology) and then at Manchester University; I currently work for Blackburn with Darwen’s Educational Psychology Team. My special interests are in nurturing, attachment and EBD but I am also interested in executive skills and learning. I have a personal interest in maths anxiety given that my youngest daughter has been very anxious and distressed about maths for years impacting on her ability to make progress.

Kath Tyldesley

I am an Academic and Professional Tutor on the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology. I am also a Specialist Practitioner Educational Psychologist for Salford City Council. My post doctoral qualifications are in Paediatric Clinical Neuropsychology. I am a full member of the British Psychological Society Division of Neuropsychology. My research and practitioner interests are in: Executive Function, Working Memory, Epilepsy, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Dyscalculia, Acquired Brain Injury and Trans* and gender questioning children and young people. My interest in maths anxiety arises from observations of children and young people experiencing severe anxiety reactions to mathematical tasks, particularly those associated with selection of mathematical operation and those with high cognitive demand on the central executive function component of working memory. One of my current doctoral students is working towards a thesis proposal which includes elements exploring mathematics, working memory and anxiety.

John Woods

I have been an educational psychologist for fourteen years and is currently working at One Education in Manchester. As such I am registered with the HCPC and an active member of the Association of Educational Psychologists. With a first degree in Chemistry and experience teaching the subject at secondary level I have appreciated the need for students to use mathematical skills in their study of science (and the levels of confidence they possess in doing so). I have also worked with specialist teachers in implementing the ‘Maths Recovery’ programme with primary schools in Tameside. Of late I have begun to pursue a specialist role involving leading fellow team members to consider and evaluate psychological theories and models of learning that are relevant to their practice. This will include developing an appreciation of the impact of anxiety on confidence and progress.