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The University of Southampton

Bringing the School Maths Project into the 21st century

Southampton researchers are bringing the revolutionary and iconic 1960s School Maths Project (SMP) into the 21st century.

3 January 2020

The SMP began as a research project in 1961, led in part by University of Southampton professor, Bryan Thwaites.

The project aimed to change the course of mathematics teaching in Britain. At the time, it was felt that the western world was being left behind after the then Soviet Union launched Sputnik, and the way young people were taught maths needed to be updated.

Instead of dwelling on more traditional forms of teaching maths, such as geonmetry and arithmetic, the SMP focused on subjects such as set theory, graph theory and logic, non-cartesian co-ordinate systems, matrix mathematics, affine transforms, vectors and non-decimal number systems.

Through this project, the University contributes to improving the quality of mathematics education worldwide by providing high quality mathematics textbooks. Such textbooks provide effective mathematics tasks and curriculum materials. The project maintains and reinvigorates the University of Southampton’s leading role in mathematics education over the past five decades.

Dr Christian Bokhove - Associate Professor in Mathematics Education

It resulted in new textbooks being made available to secondary schools across the country and radically changed how the subject was taught.

Now in a new study, supported by impact funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), a Southampton team led by Dr Christian Bokhove, Associate Professor in Mathematics Education, is exploring whether the SMP can be transformed into SMP 2.0.

Key parts of the SMP archive have been digitised and will now be mapped against the current Key Stage 3 and 4 curriculums before being evaluated.

Dr Christian Bokhove then plans to conduct a feasibility study to see whether breathing new life into the original project and creating new versions of the textbooks.

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