New five-year research project which will understand and improve early mathematics learning launched at Loughborough University.

The Centre for Early Mathematics Learning (CEML) was celebrated at a launch event on 9 June, opened by Loughborough’s Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings. Other guest speakers included Lynne McClure OBE, Director of Cambridge Mathematics.

Guest speakers included Lynne McClure OBE, Director of Cambridge Maths

Last year, Loughborough University was one of six in the UK to receive support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, to tackle urgent social and economic issues. Thanks to the £8m funding boost from the ESRC, Loughborough will be home CEML which will carry out pioneering research focused on children’s early mathematics learning.

Led by Professor Camilla Gilmore from the Department of Mathematics Education, CEML will bring together 21 experts from seven other institutions who will address the challenges that currently prevent teachers and practitioners from providing children with the support they need to succeed in early years mathematics.

Loughborough will be the base for the centre and will run in partnership with the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Oxford, Ulster, York and University College London.

Through the rigorous research carried out, CEML will be able to equip educators with the knowledge tools and confidence to help children progress.

Research shows that mathematics skills are linked to employment, wellbeing and quality of life and that half of UK adults do not have the numeracy skills they need for modern life. Studies have also highlighted those difficulties in learning and achievement gaps emerge early. COVID 19 has only exacerbated this, with evidence that young children have been impacted the most from school closures and maths is the subject most affected.

One of CEML’s main aims is to address the gap in translational research. The centre will work closely with educators to design resources, and evaluate them, to ensure their research has a direct impact on educational practice nationally and internationally.

CEML’s work will be centred around five main challenges:

1. How do the foundations of mathematics learning emerge in the preschool years? Researchers will develop ground-breaking new methods to study the emergence of key mathematical skills in early years education

2. What are the causal mechanisms that drive mathematics learning during primary school? Through rigorous randomised controlled trials (RCTs), challenge leads will identify the causal predictors of mathematics achievement

3. How do children’s experiences in early educational settings and at home influence their mathematical development? Researchers will explore how children’s development is influenced by experiences at home and in educational environments.

4. How do we design effective educational resources based on an understanding of mathematical learning processes? Researchers focussing on this challenge will work with teachers, early years practitioners and families to develop a library of resources to be used at home and in early educational settings.

5. What are the most effective ways to impact educational practice? CEML will produce effective mechanisms through which educators can learn about research-informed teaching developments and how to put them into practice.

Professor Gilmore said: “Giving children a firm foundation with mathematics in the early years is so important for their later development and to give them opportunities for the future. CEML will investigate how we can help children to develop a love of the subject as well as acquire the basic skills they need.”

CEML’s mission is to drive educational policy and build the UK’s capacity for research on early mathematics learning. To hear about research developments, visit and subscribe using the form at the bottom of the homepage.