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The ALM bulletin is a bimonthly newsletter from Adults Learning Mathematics (ALM).
ALM is an international research forum bringing together researchers and practitioners in adult mathematics/numeracy teaching and learning in order to promote the learning of mathematics by adults.

ALM bulletin March 2020

Welcome to the March ALM Bulletin. As we all know, life has changed markedly since the last bulletin due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most of us now are in some form of quarantine and building new work and life routines. Myself, and the ALM trustees, wish all of our ALM members and bulletin readers the very best in these extraordinary times.

Fortunately, the ALM trustees usually meet virtually so our meetings will go ahead as planned. However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 virus on travel and social gathering we have now agreed to postpone ALM 27, which was to be held in Vancouver in July 2020. This is a great shame as Judy Larsen and her team have done a lot of preparation to organise a very interesting conference. She explains more in the section below.

Meanwhile the ALM trustees are taking this opportunity to consider how best to re-organise future conferences as well as exploring new ways of using the ALM website to continue to share research and practice virtually. The website experienced a couple of technical glitches around Christmas 2019, hence the trustees are making plans to ensure we are efficient in looking after the current content but are also ready and able to adapt to new requirements and plans for the future. Indeed we hope to be able to announce some innovations in upcoming bulletins and would welcome your contributions and comments.

Dr. Beth Kelly
Chair of ALM

ALM27 - Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: Adults learning mathematics in a changing world.

We are sorry to announce that the ALM 27 conference in Vancouver, due to take place in July 2020, will now be postponed due to the global situation with COVID-19. The ALM trustees are working on new arrangements. Confirmation of the new dates and location for ALM 27 will be announced on the website as soon as these are available.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may create for anyone, but the trustees and organizers felt this was a necessary action to take, given the current situation with travel restrictions. ALM plans to deliver an excellent conference in 2021 and is also considering virtual options for webinars with discussion forums to be hosted throughout the year. So stay tuned to updates and stay healthy!

ALM has a new Facebook page

We have unfortunately been unable to find out who administers our previous ALM page on Facebook, so a new page has been created. This can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/ALM-Adults-Learning-Mathematics-116175979820410/. Feel free to go to the page to like it, discuss or post.

ALM 26 proceedings

The proceedings for ALM 26 (Lund) are now on our website together with an image of the cover of the document, see http://alm-online.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/ALM26Proceedings.pdf. If you were a participant at the conference and would like a printed copy, please send a message to linda.jarlskog@lund.se no later than 1 May 2020 and Linda will reply with confirmation.
If you would like a paper copy of the ALM 25 proceedings you are welcome to contact David Kaye at david.m.kaye@btopenworld.com.

CERME

ALM reminds its members and friends that the 12th Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (CERME12), is planned for February 3rd-7th 2021. The event will be hosted by the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in the South Tyrol province of north Italy. The call for papers opens on June 2nd 2020 and registration opens in August 2020. CERME 12 will be preceded by a YERME day for young researchers.

“The conference will be hosted in the central buildings of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. The plenary lectures will take place in the theatre of Bozen-Bolzano, the second producing theatre in Italy. The theatre and all locations for the thematic working groups are located in the centre of the town, near to the artistical and historical highlights and all accommodation facilities.” https://www.cerme12.it/

There will be a Thematic Working Groups (TWG) on Adult Mathematics Education at CERME 12. In 2019 in Utrecht, CERME 11 this TWG was included for the first time, thanks to the leadership of Kees Hoogland (The Netherlands). Kees will be chairing the group again at CERME 12, assisted by co-chairs: Javíer Díez-Palomar (Spain); Fiona Faulkner (Ireland); and Beth Kelly (UK).

Mathematics in Further Education Colleges (MiFEC) project

A second interim report was published in February 2020 on findings from the Mathematics in Further Education Colleges (MiFEC) project in England, which is based at the University of Nottingham and funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The report features analysis of case studies from a large sample of Further Education colleges in 2018 and 2019 and includes some key messages for policy-makers, college managers and other stakeholders. Here are a few of the main points but the full report can be found at https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/education/documents/research/mifec-interim-report.pdf

In our analysis we found wide variations between colleges in the range of vocational and academic courses offered, which affect the challenges faced by mathematics teachers. These differences are not currently taken into account in measures of college performance with mathematics, even though they influence outcomes. Differences between colleges and student cohorts also mean that organisational strategies for mathematics are not necessarily transferable and context-appropriate solutions to issues need to be considered.

There is wide agreement that mathematics needs to be seen as a whole college responsibility, with vocational staff and senior leaders sharing operational responsibilities with mathematics staff. A key role in most colleges is however held by a single manager with responsibility for coordination of mathematics across the college. These cross college managers perform an important and distinctive function in leadership and management, for which there is a lack of bespoke training. Colleges are faced with complex organisational issues as a result of the GCSE resit policy and work hard to address these but there is little clear guidance about how to develop effective strategies and systems to suit different college situations. Better training for these cross college managers would help address these issues.

Students’ backgrounds, prior experiences, attitudes and aspirations affect their motivation to study mathematics and teachers in Further Education colleges need the skills to deal with these issues. Mathematics teachers also need a wide toolkit of resources and adaptive pedagogies to work with variations in and between student groups.

There is wide diversity in the backgrounds, qualifications and skills of mathematics teachers in Further Education colleges. This brings both challenges and benefits. Individuals will have different professional development needs, depending on their previous employment, education and training but collectively bring a wide range of expertise into a college teaching team that has the potential to enrich professional learning communities.

Diane Dalby
University of Nottingham

Future bulletins

We hope that you are enjoying the regular ALM Bulletin. If you have news from your part of the world that may be of interest to our international community then please do get in touch with Diane Dalby diane.dalby@nottingham.ac.uk or send her a short draft item for the next bulletin by May 1st.

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