Bowland Maths is involved in producing problem solving tasks to helps learners, aged 11-14, develop the mathematical skills needed for everyday life.


Bowland Maths was created out of a concern for the state of mathematics education in England.

Whilst the role of mathematics in society was becoming ever more important, it was noticed that students, at Key Stage 3, were becoming less engaged in the subject. This was largely due to the subject becoming more abstract and, therefore, students failing to see its relevance to their lives.

This disconnect between “school maths” and the outside world resulted in employers finding that people were not equipped with the mathematics skills and thinking required in decision making processes.

Added to these concerns was the generally accepted, “I’m not very good at maths” sentiment, often expressed in today’s society.


It was identified that whilst schools addressed knowledge and skills in mathematics, i,e. the basics, there was little attention in supporting students in:

  • using these skills to tackle new problems
  • discussing their thinking with other students and with their teachers
  • instilling an attitude that recognises the value of analytical approaches to problems.

The design of Bowland Maths was to provided materials that would enable teachers to tackle these areas with their students, “successfully as well as enjoyably.”

The suggested development of the initiative would adopt a “three pronged” strategy.

The suggested development of the initiative would adopt a “three pronged” strategy. This involved:

  1. Teaching resources – to encourage pupils to engage with substantial and context rich problems.
  2. Professional development – to help teachers with the new pedagogical challenges involved.
  3. Assessment tasks – to provide teachers with feedback to help monitor pupils’ progress and so adapt future teaching, and demonstrate that assessment is possible and feasible for context-rich problem solving.

The project drew upon the work of the University of Nottingham, who devised the tasks and supported the development of the modules and the online resource, more generally.


My involvement in Bowland Maths was in the support of filming and editing a series of videos, as part of the Professional Development strand. I worked on two of the PD modules:

  • Assessing the Key Processes
  • Involving pupils in self and peer assessment

The purpose was to focus on teachers using the tasks and reflecting on their experiences, in relation to the modules mentioned above.

Filming took place over five days and involved following two groups of three teachers. One group, from West Park School, near Derby, focussed on assessing the Key Processes. The other group, from Arthur Terry School, Sutton Coldfield, worked on self and peer assessment.

For each teacher, we captured the follow-up lesson. We then filmed them in their respective groups, reflecting on their practice. Finally, we interviewed some of the students on their experiences in using the tasks.

I worked with the University of Nottingham and MLM Learning Design to create 20 videos to populate the structure of the two PD modules.