What is RME@MMU all about?

Mathematics teacher educators at Manchester Metropolitan University have been designing teaching materials for many years, using a Realistic Maths Education (RME) approach, originally developed in the Netherlands.  We have trialled our materials in England in a number of projects in order to find out what works best and why. Read more about who we are and our past projects here.

What is RME exactly?

RME is an approach to mathematics which begins with contexts that students can relate to and builds their understanding through modelling those contexts mathematically.  It focuses on sense-making rather than memorising formulae, and students often become more confident with mathematics and willing to ‘give it a go’.  Students who are strong in mathematics can find new ways to solve problems.  Read more about how RME works here.

What does an RME classroom look like?

RME classrooms are often different from regular mathematics classrooms.  There is a lot more discussion, and students spend less time working through exercises alone. Read more about what makes RME classrooms different here.

What about assessment and homework?

Our RME materials are aligned with the national curriculum. Pupils learn the mathematics they need to provide a firm foundation for the GCSE examination and hopefully have a better understanding of it and be able to apply it better.  We find that they often enjoy mathematics more, too.

Because they may be working on fewer exercises during RME classes, students often write less than usual in their book, and their homework might involve exploring problems through drawing diagrams or collecting data at home.  Students may be asked to investigate a context during class or for homework, and instead of exercises might write about these in their books, or include photographs of their work.

My child is very good at maths/is anxious about maths. Is RME suitable for them?

RME approaches and materials are very suited to all abilities. They involve context-based problems that students can approach from their own knowledge base. This helps lower attaining children re-engage with ideas they may have previously found difficult to access. Traditional mathematical teaching can create problems for all students, but it especially causes problems for lower attainers or students who have disliked or struggled with mathematics in the past, or who might struggle with memorising how to do calculations etc. Our RME team has a lot of experience working with such students. We have worked with students who have failed GCSE maths multiple times and supported them to get through. RME shifts them from relying solely on memory to making sense of what they are doing.  It also means that for many students they start enjoying mathematics lessons.  For stronger students, RME provides an opportunity to expand their understanding and make new connections across mathematics – an ideal preparation for GCSE.

Supporting your child

Since RME anchors mathematics in accessible and everyday contexts, you might find more opportunities than usual for discussing mathematics with your child and making sense of it together. RME can be challenging because it asks students to explain their thinking. Parents and carers can help them to develop this invaluable skill.