Where next for mathematics education in higher education? A one-day meeting in honour of Professor John Blake


  • Michael Grove University of Birmingham
  • Gary Brown
  • Tony Croft
  • Stephen Hibberd
  • Jeremy Levesley
  • Chris Linton




Maths, Stats & OR Network, mathematics education, teaching and learning, mathematics support.


On the 10 June 2016 Professor John Blake, known to many readers of MSOR Connections for his leadership of the Maths, Stats & OR Network and his passionate support for mathematics education, passed away peacefully following a short illness. He was 69. In recognition of John’s work, a number of his friends and colleagues came together to organise a one-day education meeting in his honour that comprised part of a larger event celebrating his many achievements in applied mathematics. The meeting was held in July 2017 at the University of Birmingham, a place where John spent many years of his career and established a legacy for teaching and learning from which many now benefit today. John was a man for action and the purpose of this one-day meeting was to explore the current needs and priorities of the mathematical sciences community and identify mechanisms by which we can continue to work together in a changed, and changing, higher education landscape: this article comprises a record of the thoughts and ideas of those who presented in honour of John’s legacy.

Author Biography

Michael Grove, University of Birmingham

School of Mathematics


ABPI (2008). Skills needed for biomedical research. London, UK: Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

Blake, J.R. (2012). Reflections from a past Director (2000-8). MSOR Connections, 12(2), pp. 34-35.

BBSRC (undated). The Age of Bioscience: Strategic Plan 2010-2015. Swindon, UK: Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council.

British Academy (2012). Society Counts: Quantitative Skills in the Social Sciences and Humanities. London, UK: British Academy.

DfE (2017). Teaching Excellence Framework: Subject-level pilot specification. London, UK: Department for Education.

Grove, M.J., Croft, A.C., Kyle, J. and Lawson, D.A. (Eds.) (2015). Transitions in Undergraduate Mathematics Education. Birmingham, UK: University of Birmingham and Higher Education Academy.

Grove, M.J. and Overton, T.L. (Eds.) (2013). Getting Started in Pedagogic Research within the STEM Disciplines. Birmingham, UK: University of Birmingham and The Higher Education Academy.

HEFCE (2017). The TEF. Available via http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/tef/ (last accessed 30 December 2017).

Hibberd, S. (2011). Integrative Use of Group Projects. In Robinson, M., Challis, N.,Thomlinson, M., Eds. Developing Graduate Skills in HE Mathematics Programmes - Case Studies of Successful Practice: Reflections on experience, practice and provision. Birmingham, UK: Math, Stats and OR Network, pp. 18-19.

IMA (2017). University Degree Programme Accreditation. Available via https://ima.org.uk/university-degree-programme-accreditation/ (last accessed 31 December 2017).

Lawson, D., Halpin, M. and Croft, T. (2001). After the diagnostic test: what next? Evaluating and enhancing the effectiveness of mathematics support centres. MSOR Connections, 1(3), pp. 19-23.

Lawson, D., Halpin, M. and Croft, T. (2002a). After the diagnostic test: what next? Evaluating and enhancing the effectiveness of mathematics support centres part 2. MSOR Connections, 2(1), pp. 23-26.

Lawson, D., Croft, T., Halpin, M. (2002b). Good Practice in the Provision of Mathematics Support Centres. Birmingham, UK: The Maths, Stats & OR Network.

Lighthill, J. (Ed.) (1978). Newer Uses of Mathematics. London, UK: Penguin Books

LMS (1995). Tackling the Mathematics Problem. London, UK: London Mathematical Society, Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications and the Royal Statistical Society.

National Research Council (2013). The Mathematical Sciences in 2025. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/15269.

Pólya, G. (1945). How to Solve It. New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press.

Scott, C.P. (1921). A Hundred years. Available via https://www.theguardian.com/sustainability/cp-scott-centenary-essay (last accessed 31 December 2017).

Sutherland, R. and Pozzi, S. (1995). The Changing Mathematical Background of Undergraduate Engineers. London: The Engineering Council.

Tukey, J.W. (1980). We Need Both Exploratory and Confirmatory. The American Statistician, Vol. 34, No. 1.

UK Statistics Authority (2009). Code of Practice for Official Statistics (Edition 1.0). London, UK: UK Statistics Authority, pp. 23 – 25.

UNISTATS (2017). UNISTATS: The official website for comparing UK higher education course data. Available via https://unistats.ac.uk (last accessed 30 December 2017).

Wakeham, W. (2016). Wakeham Review of STEM Degree Provision and Graduate Employability. Available via https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/518582/ind-16-6-wakeham-review-stem-graduate-employability.pdf (last accessed 30 December 2017).

Waldock, J. and Hibberd, S. Chapter (2015). Employability for the workplace. In Grove, M.J., Croft, A.C., Kyle, J. and Lawson, D.A., Eds. Transitions in Undergraduate Mathematics Education. Birmingham, UK: Higher Education Academy and University of Birmingham.

WONKHE (2017). Graduate salaries 5 years after graduation (2008/9 cohort) – Mathematical Sciences. Available via http://wonkhe.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Screen-Shot-2017-06-13-at-16.12.06.png (last accessed 31 December 2017).