The Mathematical Association eNewsletter

December 2019

2020 Annual Conference - Last Chance for Early Bird Rates!
The Mathematical Association and the National Association of Numeracy and Mathematics in Colleges (NANAMIC) invite you to join us at the stunning Wyboston Lakes for our Annual Conference on 14th to 16th April 2020. The conference programme is available to download from the MA website where you can also book your place at the conference. Early bird rates are available until the end of December.
Mathematics in School
Council member Ed Southall has been working with Chris Pritchard and the editorial team to develop new content and a new look for our journal Mathematics in School for 2020. We have a number of exciting contributors lined up for Volume 49 including former President Rob Eastaway, MEI's Tom Button, Think Maths' Zoe Griffiths and author Jemma Sherwood amongst many others. We hope you'll agree our cover for January looks fantastic!
Monthly Puzzles
Each month we'll post a puzzle from Ed Southall (@solvemymaths). You can use these puzzles with your pupils, staff or even parents! Just copy and paste directly from the newsletter.
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
We were delighted to see The Mathematical Association's President Designate Hannah Fry presenting the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures "Secrets and lies: The hidden power of maths". The lectures were broadcast on BBC 4 at 8pm on 26, 27 and 28 December and are now available to watch on iPlayer.

Farewell to Marcia

On 7th December, Council and friends wished Marcia a happy retirement as she leaves us after over twenty years of dedicated work to the MA. We held a special lunch for her after the Council meeting and presented her with some gifts from our Association. Peter Bailey thanked Marcia for her work with the Primary Mathematics Challenge, Peter Ransom and Bill Richardson also expressed their, and the MA’s, thanks for all she had done. Marcia was given a silver brooch in the form of a Möbius band and a gift card.

New Executive Officer

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sandi Atkinson to the post of Executive Officer at The Mathematical Association. Sandi will start on 6th January 2020. We were delighted that Sandi was able to attend Council on 7th December and meet those present. Sandi joins us from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Thanks to Julia

We are sorry to say goodbye to Julia Brown, who is moving at the start of January to the US for a period of time. Julia has done sterling work as Chair of Professional Development and more recently as Chair of Membership. She has also, as member of Council with responsibility for HQ, overseen the recent appointment of our new Executive Officer. We wish her all the very best for the future.


Peter Ransom goes to the Palace!

On Tuesday 26 November Peter Ransom, our Chair of Council, was invested with his MBE by Prince William at Buckingham Palace.

The citation was for 'Voluntary service to Mathematical Education'. Peter joined the MA in 1980 and was active in his local branch in the north-east, organising the annual conference with branch members at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1991. He is also known for his international work at conferences, focussing on the history and pedagogy of mathematics.

London Branch
Branch Contact: Mark Horley


Visible Maths Pedagogy with Alba Fejzo and Tiago Carvalho
10.00am – 12.30pm on Saturday 25th January 2020
UCL Institute of Education

The Visible Maths Pedagogy participatory action research project, based at Stoke Newington School, is a collaboration between Alba Fejzo and Tiago Carvalho (both mathematics teachers at the school) and Dr. Pete Wright (UCL Institute of Education). The study focuses on developing strategies teachers can use to make their pedagogy more visible, i.e. to help all students recognise their intentions as teachers, whilst adopting progressive approaches to teaching secondary mathematics in mixed attainment groups. It aims to explore the potential of these strategies to reduce the large gaps in mathematics achievement existing between children from different socio-economic groups. In this session we will model some of the activities and strategies developed through the project and discuss some of the findings. You can find out more about the project at:

Mathematical Reasoning, Justification and Proof with Charlie Gilderdale
10.00am – 12.30pm on Saturday 28th March 2020
UCL Institute of Education

In this workshop Charlie Gilderdale from NRICH will select some of his favourite problems and show how they can be used to introduce students to mathematical reasoning, justification and proof, so that they can learn to develop convincing arguments.

Exeter Branch
Branch Contact: Richard Perring 

Escher's Horses with Dr Bob Burn
6.00pm - 8.00pm on 5th February 2020
Exeter Maths School

2020 Joint Branch Event with Mark McCourt
6.00pm - 8.00pm on 30th April 2020
Exeter Maths School


Sussex Branch
Branch Contact: Dr Paul Harris

Trafalgar with Peter Ransom
5pm on Tuesday 28th January 2020 
Burgess Hill School for Girls, Keymer Road, Burgess Hill, RH15 0EG

Annual Problem Drive 
March 2020 (time and date tbc)
Roedean School, Brighton

Manchester Branch
Branch Contact: Rosa Archer

Variation Theory
Meet at 10:00 for 10:30 start and finish at 12:30 on Saturday 1st February 2020
Manchester University, Ellen Wilkinson Building B4.3

Participants will share their experiences of Variation. 

Cambridge Branch
Branch Contacts: Lynne McClure,  Mark DawesEms LordLuke Rolls 

NRICH: Maximising the potential of our rich mathematical resources in your classroom
4.30pm - 6.00pm on Tuesday 11th February 2020

University of Cambridge, Faculty of Mathematics, Wilberforce Road, CB3 0WA
In this highly practical session, members of the NRICH team will introduce some of their latest rich mathematical resources alongside classroom practitioners who will share their insights into maximising their potential with your learners. Be prepared to explore, reflect and have fun! NRICH was recently recognised as Resource of the Year at the Above and Beyond Awards and continues to attract huge worldwide interest in both our resources and professional development opportunities, including our attempt with Maths Week England to deliver the world’s largest-ever mathematics lesson.

The Symbols and the Symbolised
4.00pm - 6.30pm on Thursday 11th June 2020
Faculty of Education, 184 Hills Rd, Cambridge, CB2 8PQ
We can be lured into thinking that the symbols we use in mathematics are the mathematics itself. During the session we will explore ways in which learners might be given some control over symbolising these situations themselves.  Pete Griffin is Assistant Director in the Secondary Team at NCETM and has had a varied career in teaching, advisory work and higher education. He is well known for his engaging CPD session.

Yorkshire Branch
Branch Contacts: 
Alan Slomson

What do The Rosetta Stone, Maths and Magic all have in common? with Andrew Jeffrey
1.30pm for 2pm on Saturday 25th January 2020
University of Leeds (MALL 1, School of Mathematics)
The Rosetta Stone changed our understanding of Ancient Egypt completely. But what could it possibly have to do with maths, and specifically how children learn it? Come along and find out! During this talk, Andrew will explain his thinking behind what works, and why. He will also play noughts and crosses, show you an impossible card trick, and even attempt to predict the evening's National Lottery results!

How often do curves meet? with Dr James Cranch
2.30pm on Wednesday 1st April 2020
University of Leeds (Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, Michael Sadler Building)
If you take an equation involving variables x and y, you can draw a graph of its solutions: they form a plane curve. If you have two such equations, you have two curves, and you can ask how many times they intersect each other. I'll explain why counting these intersections is useful for a range of things: from understanding Pythagoras's equation, to annoying people on the internet, to the cutting edge of mathematics. I'll show a very simple formula, which happens to be wrong, and explain why it's a good idea to ignore the fact that it's wrong. This talk is included in the Key Stage 5 Maths Day. Visit for more details.

Liverpool Mathematical Society
Branch Contact: Peter Giblin

Secrets of the Rainbow with Professor Ian Jones
5.30pm - 6.30pm on Wednesday 26th February 2020
Venue TBC
In this talk, Ian Jones will present mathematical models, developed during the course of the last few hundred years, which explain some of the features of the rainbow. Such features include the circular shape of the primary and secondary bows, Alexander’s dark band, order of the colours, angle of the bows in the sky and many others. These will be discussed with the help of some secondary school geometry.

Presidential Lecture with Anna Pratoussevitch, LivMS President
5.30pm - 6.30pm on Wednesday 25th March 2020
Venue TBC
For more information about upcoming branch events please see the branch events page on the MA website. If there's not a branch near you then why not consider setting one up? Details here.

New! Challenge Your Pupils 4

This fourth book of puzzles taken from past Primary Mathematics Challenge papers contains over 200 multiple choice problems which aim to interest and motivate pupils. They cover a full range of mathematics topics and are provided with answers, notes and follow-up ideas. The problems can be used by primary and secondary teachers in class, for homework, and maths clubs. Challenge Your Pupils 4 is now available to buy from the MA Shop

Resource of the Month
Every month we'll share a maths resource for teachers. Magic squares are versatile puzzles and can be used to help develop fluency in a number of topics. Don Steward has a wide range of magic squares here

Maths Attainment Gap Analysis

Research into more than three million individual termly standardised test results in grammar, punctuation and spelling, reading and mathematics has revealed differences in performance by age, gender, season of birth and backgrounds. Key findings include the following:

  • On average, girls outperform boys in all areas of grammar, punctuation and spelling and reading while boys steadily overtake girls in mathematics as they progress through primary school
  • Gender-specific attainment gaps are worse in particular topics or concepts: The attainment gap in punctuation tends to increase for boys throughout primary school, while girls struggle more with fractions, as well as number and measures, as school progresses
  • The different types of state funded schools (such as academies, free schools or voluntary-aided schools) have little to no impact on attainment gaps related to gender or season of birth.
You can read the report here.

Access to Journals

All Mathematical Association members have access via the Members' Area to back issues of the Gazette and/or to Mathematics in School, depending on their membership category.

Both titles are subject to a five-year moving wall so as of now we offer the following:

Mathematics in School
Coverage: 1971-2013 (Vol. 1, No. 1 - Vol. 42, No. 5)

The Mathematical Gazette
Coverage: 1894-2013 (No. 1 - Vol. 97, No. 540)

Very soon, each of these will also include 2014.

You can access these journals through the JSTOR link in the Members' Area.

From the Archives
Every month we'll share an interesting or amusing extract from an old maths textbook or examination. Here we have a scholarship paper from Wellington College from 1958. You can view more English public school mathematics scholarship papers from the period 1926 to 1964 here

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