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: November 2020

Welcome to the November ALM Bulletin. The last few months has continued to see a substantial amount of work by ALM members and trustees, including the exciting development of the ALM Virtual Seminar Series, which you will read about in this bulletin. You can also read about our plans for the ALM conference in 2021, which is to be hosted in Hamburg, as well as some brand new research from the UK on challenges facing maths education in the post 16 sector in Further Education Colleges.

Meanwhile the editorial team for the International ALM Journal continue to review articles already submitted, whilst also encouraging new contributions of papers related to research findings and classroom experiences. For more information and guidance on preparing an article please see You can view the latest volumes at
Meanwhile, keep safe and healthy, and we look forward to seeing and hearing from you soon.

Beth Kelly
Chair of ALM trustees

2020 - A year to remember for ALM

Catherine Byrne writes about her reflections on ALM in 2020.

ALM has held an annual conference since it was founded in 1993. This has always been a great opportunity for members and people interested in adults learning maths across the world to gather and connect. Our conferences were like community gatherings, a family gathering even. In 2020 we planned to visit Vancouver for the first time. Judy Larsen and her team had prepared a group of wonderful speakers, an exciting programme and even a floating conference dinner. Then slowly it became clear that this was not possible.

Yet from this disappointment a new opportunity emerged. The trustees decided to invite the Vancouver speakers, and others, to take part in a series of virtual seminars. With the support of Beth Kelly, Chairperson, and the technical skills of Charlotte and Judy, and all the trustees, something exciting was created from the initial disappointment. We have now hosted two virtual events.

The first one was during Maths Week 2020 in Ireland and offered a snapshot of how Covid 19 has affected adults learning maths in different contexts, in Ireland and the United Kingdom. We heard about the impact on maths education researchers, on student maths teachers, on young maths students in a youth training centre, on students of maths in a prison education centre, and on maths in a family learning context. Participants joined in from all across the world and we realised that the distance between us did not matter because our experiences were similar as we faced a changed world. Our second speaker, Keiko Yasukawa, stimulated a wide ranging discussion on “Numerate environments in a changing world“, which attracted attendees from New Zealand to Vancouver and Brazil, by way of India and the European Union.

The next Virtual Seminar will be on November 19th, when Jeff Evans will speak about " The Use of Statistics: what can a numerate citizen learn from the Covid-19 pandemic?" A new series of events will be announced soon for Spring 2020. For more details and registration for Jeff’s seminar, please visit

Please join the ALM community on our new adventure in virtual seminars. We are learning more than we ever thought possible in such a short time, in technical terms and also about the connectedness of the world of adults learning maths, and we invite you to be part of this.

ALM Virtual Seminar Series

We are excited about the response to our first two ALM virtual seminars which took place in October. In addition to Catherine’s account above of her own reflections, the comments below from participants show how much these seminars were appreciated and clearly indicate an appetite for more.

“Thanks very much for a brilliant talk Keiko. The social landscape looks very grim for a substantial proportion of the population.”

“I really enjoyed the conversation as well. The idea of shortening the distance between school math and life math is compelling.”

“Thanks for the seminar - really good that it worked for so much of the world!”

“Thank you so much for the great discussion and presentation!”

Getting ready for summer 2021 - ALM28 in Hamburg

From July 4th to 7th 2021, the University of Hamburg and the research consortium ‘Hamburg Numeracy Project’, invite you to join them in Hamburg for the 28th ALM conference. Being a traditional city of trade, part of the Hanse and home to 17 Universities, the city of Hamburg provides an exciting backdrop for the conference. The theme of the conference will be ‘Numeracy and Vulnerability’. We hope to see you in Hamburg but will also provide possibilities to join us virtually. Shortly, we will be inviting you to submit abstracts. Further details about how to submit an abstract and about the conference itself will be released in due course.

Mathematics in Further Education Colleges project

The final report of the Mathematics in Further Education Colleges (MiFEC) project was published in October 2020. The report presents a series of recommendations for policy makers, college managers and other stakeholders. Many of these are aimed at improving the learning experiences of 16-18 year olds who are retaking mathematics after ‘failing’ their GCSE examination in school but the report raises several systemic issues related to all post-16 maths provision in FE. The unsuitability of current policy and qualification options for some students comes through strongly and the unhelpful effects of current performance measures. The report also highlights the need for better support for FE colleges, in particular concerning equitable access to maths-specific professional development, appropriate training pathways for those entering FE maths teaching from diverse backgrounds and bespoke training for cross-college managers of maths.

The final report follows two interim reports also published this year. The extensive second interim report in February presents MiFEC findings about the implementation of mathematics policy in FE colleges, based on a detailed analysis of 32 case studies. The shorter third interim report, published earlier in October, summarises students’ views of mathematics policy and practice, including some important differences between staff and students’ views.

The final report can be accessed using the link below

The second and third interim reports can be accessed using the following links:;

Mathematics Futures programme: Call for Views

In the UK, ALM is a member of the Joint Mathematics Council (JMC), and as members we are invited to take part in the Royal Society’s Mathematical Futures programme. The Royal Society is calling for views, opinions, information and evidence on how mathematics is changing, and what the impact of such changes may be on the future of education, society, and work. The responses will influence the programme’s activities and projects. They will also inform the Society’s efforts to ensure the UK’s education systems offer young people a broad and balanced curriculum covering the sciences, humanities, arts and social sciences up to age 18. The Mathematical Futures Call for Views is structured around the programme’s two core questions:
  • What mathematical competences will be needed by citizens to thrive in the future?
  • How should education systems develop these mathematical competences?
Views from outside the UK are welcome. You can take part in the survey via the link

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 or send her a short draft item for the next bulletin by January 2nd 2021.

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