Glasgow conference debates the future of Science and Mathematics Education in Scotland and England

Published: 24 June 2013

The University of Glasgow [Tuesday 25th June] hosts a unique conference to debate the key challenges facing Science and Mathematics education in the two nations.

The University of Glasgow [Tuesday 25th June] hosts a unique conference to debate the key challenges facing Science and Mathematics education in the two nations. Bringing together leading researchers, policy makers and educationalists from Scotland and England, this event willtackle some of the most important questions facing developed nations  – such as ‘what should science and mathematics in school look like if it is to serve the needs of a modern economy and society’?

The joint venture is led by the University of Glasgow’s School of Education and the Targeted Initiative on Science and Mathematics Education (TISME) – an English-based research programme funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and led by academics at King’s College London.

Event co-host and Chair, Prof. Louise Hayward, said “Both Scotland and England are keen to improve post-16 participation in science and mathematics and to increase attainment and ensure an appropriately trained STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workforce and both nations face significant changes in the curriculum and the assessment system in the next few years. Next year’s introduction of the new national qualifications for the senior phase and, in particular, the Scot Bacc provide a context for a sharing of research findings and experience”.  

The conference will examine how can educational policy can be better informed by research evidence in both nations. Fiona Robertson (Her Majesty’s Inspector for Mathematics, Education Scotland), who will speak at the conference, said, “Scottish education is going through a period of transformation that will affect all learners. Approaches to the curriculum, learning, teaching, assessment, awards and qualifications are all changing. Education Scotland is supporting improvement by evaluating evolving practice and sharing it nationally to inform discussion and promote innovation. This includes the use of high-quality research to inform educational practices and policies.”

Opening the day, senior figures from Scottish education will outline the challenges.  Professor Wynne Harlen will argue that raising attainment will require better forms of assessment and Ian Menzies (Senior Education Officer, Science, Education Scotland) will put forward the case for improving teaching – a theme that will be discussed further by Graham Donaldson, author of The Donaldson Report: Teaching Scotland’s Future, and Honorary Professor of University of Glasgow, who will comment on the implications of his report for science and mathematics education in schools.

Although the TISME funding was for mainly research on science and mathematics education conducted in England, the English research teams present want to learn more from Scotland’s stronger tradition of post-16 participation in the subjects.  As PI of the ASPIRES project, Prof. Louise Archer explains “Our research highlights that the English system of early specialisation and A levels seems to hinder wider participation in post-16 science. I think we can learn a lot from the Scottish context on this issue”.

The TISME projects' findings include that most children have decided that 'science careers are not for me' by the end of primary schooling - much earlier than previously thought; that the advice of a good teacher is a crucial factor in whether student decides to study science or mathematics; that teaching can be improved by improving the quality of classroom talk and formative assessment, and that emphasising the meaning and uses of science can lead to better educational outcomes.



Further Press Information: or call 0141 330 3683 or

Ginny Reid, King’s College London press office on 020 7848 3092


Interview availability: 

Professor Jeremy Hodgen, Professor of Mathematics Education , Department of Education & Professional Studies at King's College London is available for interviews

Mobile: 07812 014341


Professor Justin Dillon

Professor of science and environmental education

Head, Science and Technology Education Group (STEG)

Department of Education and Professional Studies

King's College London

Mobile: 07785 330536


Louise Archer

Professor of Sociology of Education

Department of Education and Professional Studies

King's College London

Mobile:  07748 138584


Louise Hayward

Professor of Pedagogy Policy and Practice

Department of Education

University of Glasgow

T: 0141 330 7501


Notes for editors

The Targeted Initiative on Science and Mathematics Education (TISME) is a programme of research funded by the ESRC, led by King’s College London, in partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, The Institute of Physics and the Association for Science Education. Through a portfolio of research studies and dissemination activities, TISME aims to find new ways to encourage children and young people to greater participation, engagement, achievement and understanding of Science and Mathematics. Details of TISME and the five major research projects - ASPIRES, EISER, epiSTEMe, ICCAMS and UPMAP – are funded under the Initiative are available here:


First published: 24 June 2013

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