News and current developments

Tributes to Malcolm Swan

NANAMIC joins with the rest of the mathematical community in the UK in paying tribute to Professor Malcolm Swan. His contrinbution to the teaching of mathematics cannot be overstated.  Many of the resources, particularly in the area of collaborative learning, which have been used for many years in classrooms and in CPD sessions were designed by Malcolm and his colleagues. As a teacher trainer I ensured that all my student teachers were aware of his work and they were expected to make reference to it as part of their assignments! We were delighted to welcome him to our 20th year celebration and his presentation on that occassion can be found here.


Below can be found an obituary from his colleagues at Nottingham University.


John Barton - Chair of NANAMIC


It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Professor Malcolm Swan. When I was Administrator for NANAMIC, I often invited Malcolm to speak at our conferences or run training sessions for us. Providing he wasn’t travelling the world, he invariably agreed. It was always a pleasure to welcome Malcolm to our events and it was a privilege to have known him.


Lesley Way - Recently retired administrator of NANAMIC


Malcolm Swan

Professor Malcolm Swan, who has died at the age of 64, was a leader of the international movement to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. Malcolm is recognized world-wide for the design of materials that, after a rigorous development process, have enriched the learning of millions of children.  This was the strategic mission of the University of Nottingham's Shell Centre for Mathematical Education, a research team which, after a few formative years in the classroom, he joined in 1979 and where he played a leading role throughout his career. 

A person of many talents, Malcolm's exceptional skill was in the design of tools that enable typical teachers to make specific research insights into a happy reality in their classrooms. He did this through a combination of deep understanding, creative ideas and a genius for design.  His lessons contain surprise and delight, humanity and humour - opening up the world of mathematics even to students who struggle with the abstractness of school mathematics

This liveliness and originality runs throughout the many products whose design he led. The Language of Functions and Graphs, the examination module from which these tasks come, was recognised years later when it and Malcolm were awarded the first 'Eddie' - the annual prize "for excellence in design" of ISDDE, the International Society for Design and Development in Education, whose work is focused on goals in close harmony with the Emma Castelnuovo Award.

This decision to work with an examination board exemplifies a strategic aspect of the Shell Centre work - looking for answers to a key question:  "Why should they change?"  Introducing a new topic in an important examination motivates always-busy teachers to make it part of their teaching.  To do that well most teachers also need well-engineered teaching materials that work for them in their classrooms. To get this robustness in use, Malcolm and the team took each design through an iterative process of trials in classrooms, observation and revision.

Malcolm's skill in leading a team design process, where common factors were distilled from the reports of different observers on different teachers' realisations of the lesson materials, epitomised his interpersonal skills. Many people have commented on his modest, thoughtful, patient way with those new to design, and the insights this gave into his approach to task and lesson creation. He believed, and later showed, that design could be taught and learned.

The sequence of projects that achieved large-scale impact started with the work with examination boards. Later the professional development support package, Improving Learning in Mathematics, was developed with the Department for Education; it was sent to all secondary schools, colleges - and prisons.  For the last 25 years international collaborations with US and EU funding have widened the scope and impact of Shell Centre work.  For the US-based Mathematics Assessment Project, Malcolm led the design of 100 formative assessment lessons across the age range 11-17. These took forward the earlier research-based design, on concept development and on problem solving.  There have been over 7,000,000 lesson downloads so far from alone - an impact reflected in teacher enthusiasm in the Twitter-sphere.

In 2015 this body of work was recognized by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) when Malcolm and I were chosen as the first recipients of the Emma Castelnuovo Award for  "more than 35 years of development and implementation of innovative, influential work in the practice of mathematics education, including the development of curriculum and assessment materials, instructional design concepts, teacher preparation programs, and educational system changes."

Malcolm was dedicated to the whole field of mathematics education, writing articles, giving talks, and hosting workshops.  Since his death the Twitter-sphere has been alive with evidence of the insights, and the pleasure, he has given to so many teachers and others who have come across him and his work.  One teacher wrote "He is the reason I love being a maths teacher".

He was a lovely man with a touch of genius


Hugh Burkhardt with other colleagues.


Nothing conveys as clear a sense of Malcolm as his designs, combining serious mathematics with warmth and gentle humour.  His lessons contain surprise and delight, humanity and humour - opening up the world of mathematics even to students who struggle with the abstractness of school mathematics.  Something of this can be seen in the two tasks shown, from The Language of Functions and Graphs.

"You can pick up his The Language of Functions and Graphs, now thirty years old, and wonder, 'What have we been doing all this time?' Swan drew math out of the world and thought out of our students in ways that feel challenging and new even today." Dan Meyer

Citizen Maths

Why not check out this valuable FREE resource.  New content is constantly being added Citizen Maths

Making Sense of Mathematics - Review

Making Sense of Mathematics - a review of these excellent materials
These materials provide a fresh, effective way of covering the mathematical curriculum which will engage learners and answer many of the “what’s the point” questions. These are the type of materials which I, and many others, have been waiting for. Used effectively, they will engage our students and produce those who understand the principles of mathematics and are able to apply them in life.
Making Sense of Mathematics.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [188.3 KB]



NANAMIC transferred to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation from 1 April 2014


We are delighted to confirm that following the vote at the AGM on 3 July 2013, the National Association for Numeracy and Mathematics in Colleges CIO has now been formed.  The NANAMIC CIO was incorporated by the Charity Commission and registered as a charity number 1154042 on 1 Oct 2013.  The Constitution of NANAMIC CIO is available here.


Under the terms of the vote, the existing NANAMIC Association continued to operate until 31 March 2014, but all activities have been transferred to the CIO from that date and the old association has now been wound up.


All members of the Association as at 3 July 2013 are now also members of the CIO, and have the rights and duties as specified in the CIO Constitution.


If you joined NANAMIC between 3 July 2013 and 31 March 2014, your membership has been transferred to the CIO.