The Centres for Excellence in Maths (CfEM) programme is a national improvement programme aimed at delivering a step change in maths teaching up to Level 2 in post-16 settings, with a focus on 16-19 year olds. It is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) which has chosen the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), the national workforce development body for the Further Education (FE) and Training sector, to manage and lead this programme on its behalf.

Over the next three years, the ETF will work with a range of expert delivery partners and the 21 Centres to design new and improved teaching approaches, develop quality teaching resources, build teachers’ skills and spread best practice across the country through maths networks. This is to help increase the number of young people leaving compulsory education with the necessary maths skills up to GCSE and Functional Skills level, to improve their employability, and engagement with further learning.

Core Themes of Activity

The programme is focussed primarily on four themes of activity:

  • An adapted mastery approach to mathematics, suitable for the post-16 sector
  • Approaches to contextualisation which relate maths to real-world situations
  • Motivating and engaging learners
  • The use of data and technology within mathematics education in the sector.

Core Programme

The ambition of the programme is simple – to improve outcomes for students up to level 2. This is being undertaken in a range of ways:

  • The establishment of 21 Centres for Excellence in Maths: Grant funded by DfE, these Centres are providers in the Further Education sector selected as organisations with the commitment, capacity and system leadership skills required to drive innovation and improvement in both their institution and beyond.
  • Local networks of partners for each Centre: Ten or more provider organisations will partner with every Centre to share practice, learn from each other and from national activity. This will be important to ensuring the programme reaches and benefits the entire post-16 Further Education sector.
  • Evidence gathering: The delivery partnership includes organisations targeting collation and creation of evidence and research to better inform Centres and the wider sector of what interventions and actions may work well.
  • Resources and handbooks: A number of evidence-based documents and resources will be developed and gathered to help inform teaching, and to support the trialling of some key methods or ideas. They will be freely available to all teachers and providers in the sector.
  • Trials and research: The Centres and the University of Nottingham will work together to carry out a range of research trials looking at aspects of the four themes. These are planned to develop over time, progressively targeting promising areas of work to support the sector.
  • Training and Development: The Centres are able to spend their grant funding on CPD and support. In addition, the programme provides centralised CPD for the Centres to ensure they all work to similar standards. Once initial trials have been carried out, wider training will be offered to upskill teachers in the methods / learning that has been developed.
  • Support and challenge: The Centres, partner providers and the wider sector will be both supported and challenged to change their practices with the goal of improving learner outcomes.

The programme is a collaborative sharing and learning project with teachers and students at its heart. It is a government funded collaboration with no commercial goals, and is targeting learners from any qualification, exam board or background equally.

The CfEM programme will ensure it supports learners with diverse needs, develops ways to stretch and challenge able learners who may have struggled in a school environment, and will be as responsive as possible to the context of the different providers in the sector.