Leading Reform in Mathematics Education: Solving a Complex Equation

Scott Eacott, Kathryn Holmes


In recent times considerable attention has been devoted to the performance of
schools and in particular, of students in literacy and numeracy. As part of a national
agenda addressing what is portrayed as a crisis in numeracy, and hence mathematics
education, governments have introduced a wide range of reform initiatives to
improve performance. Examples include, national testing, a national curriculum and
the ‘Education Revolution’ just to name a few. Comparative international tests such
as TIMSS and PISA contribute to the performative nature of this policy environment
which has significantly impacted on the leadership and management of mathematics
education reform. The most significant influence has been the reduction of teaching
and learning to what can be measured and the numerous, often uncritical, uses of
comparative data on school and student performance. In this paper we examine the
complexity of mathematics education reform by bringing together the discourses of
mathematics education and educational leadership. In doing so, we develop and
argue against a prescriptive ‘how to’ lead mathematics education reform, in favour
of a more sophisticated framework of leadership for mathematics education which
embraces both global and local developments in the field.


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