The conference for all 11-19 maths teachers

2-4 July 2020
University of Bath

Plenary speaker: Sue Hough

13:45-14:45, Saturday 4 July

Session description

Realistic Mathematics Education: A different view of progress

Realistic Mathematics Education (RME), the Dutch approach to teaching and learning mathematics originated with the work of Hans Freudenthal in the early 1970s. In England, the team at Manchester Metropolitan University has worked on RME projects for over fifteen years. Freudenthal saw mathematics not as a closed system of ready-made axioms, but as the activity of mathematising both real world and imaginable situations. Central to the design principles of RME are the use of realisable contexts and the associated models/ solution strategies that emerge from students engaging with these contexts.

In this session using examples from our recent school based projects, we examine some of the surprising responses students bring and consider how they might make progress both within the space of a lesson and over a longer learning sequence. In particular, we consider how the use of contexts and models sits within a ‘landscape of learning’ framework in which there is space for students to forge their own routes to acquiring mathematical behaviours and making meaning. We highlight the pedagogical implications and the issues related to working with these approaches alongside the UK curriculum.


Sue Hough is passionate about the teaching and learning of maths for people of any age, based on a belief that it is possible to teach maths in ways that are accessible, meaningful and empowering for all learners. Sue taught maths in a range of Secondary schools prior to becoming a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics Education at Manchester Metropolitan University.

For the last 18 years, Sue has led a number of research projects in this country developing the Dutch approach to teaching maths called Realistic Mathematics Education (RME). She is co-author of a series of textbooks called ‘Making Sense of Maths’, a project developer for the Department for Education Multiplicative Reasoning project and has extensive experience of working with teachers to develop their understanding of RME and the associated pedagogy.

As part of the latest RME project funded by the Education Endowment Foundation, Sue is currently working on classroom resources and a Professional Development programme to train 120 teachers across the country. Sue has been a member of various Advisory groups including: Core Maths Support Programme, AQA Expert Panel, MEI Post-16 GCSE resit Group and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Schools and Further Education Committee.