Making Mathematics Memorable - Lessons from Cognitive Science


Why does the mathematics curriculum feel full? Why do teachers feel like they are often racing to 'keep up with the curriculum?

We ask pupils to grip around 300 mathematical ideas during their whole time at school, from age 5 to 18. Yet, many of these ideas appear to need to be taught from scratch over and over again. Whilst it is important that pupils get to revisit mathematical ideas as they grow older and develop new internal schema that allow them to see these ideas from a new perspective, which builds deeper understanding, for many pupils there is no memory of having worked on the mathematics previously.


This session will explore the wealth of research and evidence in the field of human thinking, memory and cognitive abilities and their implications for teaching mathematics. By better understanding how pupils learn (and don't learn!) mathematics, we can adjust our pedagogies to maximise pupil understanding and raise attainment for all pupils.

The aim of the workshop is to solve the age old problem of pupils not retaining knowledge and skills in working with mathematical ideas, so that instead of 're-teaching' ideas that pupils should already know we can develop the ideas further and build greater mathematical competence.

Example Programme

  • 10:00   Fundamentals of learning: mastery, attainment, phasing
  • 11:00   The key ideas in cognitive science
  • 12:30   Lunch
  • 13:00   Specific implications in mathematics teaching
  • 14:00   Memory and retention over time
  • 15:00   Finish

You will leave the course with...

  • An understanding of the implications of cognitive science in the mathematics classroom.

This course is appropriate for...

  • Primary, Secondary and FE Teachers
  • Non Specialists
  • Newly Qualified Teachers
  • Maths Subject Leaders

Your Course Leaders

Mark McCourt

Mark is the UK's leading authority on teaching for mastery. He has trained over 2000 schools in mastery models for schooling in the UK and overseas.

A leading figure in mathematics education, Mark has led many large-scale government education initiatives, both in the UK and overseas. Mark was a Director at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and has also been a school leader, an Advanced Skills Teacher, a school inspector and a teacher trainer. He founded and was Chairman of the Teacher Development Trust.

Mark has extensive experience of mathematics teaching and learning across all age and ability groups, having taught students from age 3 to PhD!

Chris McGrane

Chris has 13 years of teaching experience, spread across 3 very different schools. Before becoming Mathematics Lead for La Salle in Scotland he was Principal Teacher of Maths at Hillhead High School and oversaw the design and implementation of a mastery curriculum - the first of its type in Scotland.

Chris has played a role in moving forward professional dialogue regarding mathematics education in Scotland. In addition to conference presentations he uses Twitter daily to share insight, ideas and opinion. He regularly publishes articles on his blog Recently, reflecting his interest in effective task design, Chris launched the website which shares tasks he has written and collated from colleagues.

Jonathan Hall

Jonathan has been teaching Maths in secondary schools since completing his PGCE in 2005. Before becoming a Mathematics Lead for La Salle, he was a successful head of department at Leeds City Academy for over five years and continues to work there as a Lead Practitioner of Mathematics.

Over the past decade, Jonathan has made significant contributions to the maths community by the creation of several well-known websites, most notably MathsBot, used by millions of teachers and students each year.

Jonathan has regularly presented at local and national conferences where he shares his both experiences and ideas from the classroom and the resources he creates. He is a keen Twitter user and is often posting new resources or updates to existing ones based on feedback from the maths community.

Locations and Dates:

  • Edinburgh

    Venue TBA

    Tuesday, 28th January 2020

  • Aberdeen

    Venue TBA

    Saturday, 21st March 2020

Course Fees

£140 / 80

First Attendee / Subsequent Attendees



All Complete Mathematics members benefit from free access to courses and conferences from La Salle Education

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