sigma Network Newsletter
Issue 10: March 2016

In this issue:



Future events

Past events



And so to the future…..

sigma Directorate

As you may know, the development of the sigma Network began during the period of CETL funding received between 2005 and 2010 and was formally funded through the HE STEM Programme between 2010 and 2012 and again through the current HEFCE funding which ends in July this year.  It is a testament to the evolution of this community of practice, and the commitment of those involved, that it continued to run and support practitioners during Academic Year 2012/13 when no funding was available.  Everyone with a stake in the Network and its achievements is invited to join the discussion of how to proceed. We have the momentum and energy to keep the Network alive and flourishing for the decade to come – but how can we best harness and make the most of this energy?

Work so far

Early in 2015, the sigma Advisory Group tasked the current Chair of the sigma Network (David Bowers) with identifying ways in which the Network would continue after the end of the current funding.  As Chair of the sigma Network David had experience of guiding the Network during its non-funded year and has a keen understanding of the needs of the Network moving forward.  In addition, David has experience in the establishment of a constituted Network through his work with the Association for Learning Development in HE (ALDinHE).  David was asked to ensure that the original reasons for developing the Network would be upheld in any future arrangements – namely the provision of support to those undertaking mathematics or statistics support, especially those working in isolation, and including access to local events and the experience of fellow practitioners.

David was asked to contact other networks to see how they have set themselves up and to propose a plan that would ensure the sustainability of the Network moving forward.  As part of the keynote session at last year’s CETL-MSOR conference, David and the hub co-ordinators outlined the plans to move to a constituted Network.  A draft constitution was produced for discussion and this has been reviewed and debated by the sigma Advisory Group in November 2015 and the Hub Co-ordinators at their recent Away Day in January 2016. 

As a result of the feedback gained, it was recognised that one of the biggest issues was the financial and administrative implications of organising and managing the CETL-MSOR conference.  As such, we are proposing that the responsibility for the conference moving forward be removed from the remit of the sigma Network and we are currently working on alternative arrangements to ensure its continuation.  Details regarding this can be found in Michael Grove’s article below.

Consideration has been given to other points raised by the Hub Co-ordinators and this has resulted in the development of a number of options in terms of how the Network is constituted.  Given the current financial climate and with a view to limiting any financial and administrative load on the Steering Group, we are recommending that, whatever model is chosen, the Network does not charge a subscription or membership fee at this stage.


We are now in a position to ask you for your feedback. We are suggesting the following options:


A fully constituted Network where the hub format is maintained and the Steering Group, charged with running the Network, is primarily made up of representatives from those institutions currently managing one of the 6 hubs.  This would mean that membership of the Network would be at an institutional as well as individual level. 

For this option to be feasible, either the current Hub Coordinators or other named persons would need to liaise closely with appropriate senior management of their institution to ensure institutional support is forthcoming. The sigma Directors have recently written to the Senior Management in all Hub Institutions to thank them for their support to-date and to gauge their views on this option.


A fully constituted Network where the existing hub format is removed and the Steering Group, charged with running the Network, is made up of individuals elected by its members.  The composition of the Steering Group would not rely on institutional representation.  Membership of the Network would be as an individual rather than institutional representative.


A fully constituted Network where oversight is undertaken by a professional body.  Membership could be at an institutional or individual level.  The sigma Directors have opened up discussions with one such Professional Body, but at this stage it is unclear whether this option will be possible.

Here is the suggested draft constitution which supports Option 1along with the draft Terms of Reference for the Steering Group, for your information and comment.  Please note that both of these documents are in development and subject to change.

We, the Directors, have been involved in sigma since its inception and, moving forward, it is our intention to remain involved but not to lead the Network. We also believe that, irrespective of the model chosen, the success of the Network moving forward will depend on the willingness of individuals to be active and involved, as you have done so far.

Our main resource is the large community of experienced and committed people involved in mathematics and statistics support. Some of the older members of the community may be retiring or stepping back, but some of the younger members will come forward to take on leadership roles. They will need everyone’s backing and it is important that the future direction that the Network takes is agreed and understood.

Other Actions to Support the Network

As well as the development of options on how to support the Network moving forward, the directors have undertaken some additional work around sustainability.  This includes:

  1. MSOR Connections: The future of Connections has been secured, funded by sigma, but made possible through the enthusiasm of the new editors (Noel-Ann Bradshaw, Rob Wilson, Peter Rowlett, Alun Owen) and the willingness of the University of Greenwich to host the on-line journal.
  2. Websites: Loughborough University has agreed to continue to host the websites: sigma Network, mathcentre, statstutor into the foreseeable future and until such time as others in the community, through the sigma Network wish to maintain and develop them.
  3. Mailing list: The Chair of the Network will maintain the jiscmail list.
  4. Quarterly Newsletter: Loughborough University will, for the foreseeable future, continue to produce the on-line quarterly newsletter, subject to sufficient content being generated by the community.
  5. Further funding opportunities: Some months ago the Directors submitted a bid for continuation funding to HEFCE and we await the outcome. However, the current financial climate at BIS/HEFCE suggests that further funding is unlikely to be awarded.

Over to You

We are now looking for your views on how to proceed.  All comments and feedback are valued.  Please feel free to email Moira Petrie [] with your comments before 31 March 2016

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In or Out?

David Bowers - Chair, sigma Network

At the time of writing, the buzz in the national media concerns the UK’s future position in (or out of) the European Union.  What is the correct choice for the future prosperity of the country and the wellbeing of its citizens? Prepare for many weeks of sound and fury…

David Bowers, <strong>sigma</strong> Chair

Meanwhile, in the maths support world, this summer will bring a similar juncture where decisions have to be made regarding the future.  The three year period of HEFCE funding comes to an end in July. Part of the funding agreement was that the sigma Network makes plans for the future sustainability of its work, as a professional network of practitioners involved in mathematics and statistics support in higher education. Together with the sigma Directors, the Advisory Group and the regional Hub Coordinators, I have been “modelling” different scenarios of how our network could look and operate in the coming years.

On the one hand, this has been easy.  Since 2005 the name of sigma has stood for quality, innovation and relevance in the field of maths support.  The reputational capital that has been built up, and the sheer energy and commitment of maths support practitioners across the sector, mean that a future without sigma and without the professional support it offers, is unthinkable.  That is what sustainability implies, and I think it is fair to say that we have delivered this in spades.  These quarterly Newsletters, and sigma’s other recent publications, provide ample evidence of this.

On the other hand, sustainability does not run itself. It relies on individuals continuing to be willing to collaborate, to organise meetings, to share experience, to create resources and to promote the cause. It relies no less on institutions looking beyond their own four walls, to empower their staff to demonstrate their academic citizenship and to realise that the whole can be more than the sum of the parts.

Our task for the coming weeks and months is to finalise the operational arrangements for the sigma Network beyond the end of this academic year, in a way that everyone feels comfortable with and is able to support.  Please do read and reflect on the key article by the sigma Directors in this Newsletter, which outlines the considerations so far and invites you – yes you! – to provide feedback and constructive comment.

In comparison with the current EU debate, the ultimate goal for us is clear – that mathematics and statistics support remains an essential part of the higher education landscape, and that those involved should be able to benefit from the experiences of a thriving community of practice. It’s an “in” for maths support!

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Joe Kyle's Corner

Joe Kyle

A few weeks ago I was interviewing scholarship candidates. One of the questions discussed was along the lines of guessing what things will be like ten years from now. There were some very interesting answers; after all these were pretty clever young people. Naturally, many dwelt on aspects of technology: what will be the must have device, what among today’s state of the art gadgets, will become nothing better than obsolete, though quaint, museum pieces. However, one response sticks in my memory as much more striking: we will have to learn to think in new ways, said one candidate after some reflection. And I am becoming more convinced that that will be true for all of us.

Joe Kyle

Those of us who have been involved in the work of the sigma network now have to do our own wondering about the future, now that we have reached this junction. Few can really know with much certainty. I write this just after the decision to hold a referendum has been taken, and there is much talk of dangerous “leaps in the dark” on all sides. At least our debates will be less dramatic if only because academics are more honest than politicians (on the whole)!

For my part, I have always taken the point of view that we have only just scratched the surface. Before the days of sigma (and forerunners of sigma) the map of the teaching and learning world looked very different. For many the Support was quite simply an unknown, denied continent. Well that has changed, and we have embarked upon mapping the features of this strange land. But the map is still incomplete; even though new insights emerge every day. However I am confident that, as some of us stand down, others - younger and fresher, no doubt – will rise to the task. It will be exciting, frustrating at times, but always worthwhile. I look forward to reading of the new exciting things that lie ahead.
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What now for the CETL-MSOR Conference?

Michael Grove (on behalf of the sigma Directorate)

Since the CETL-MSOR Conference first began back in 2006, sigma has always had a leading role in its organisation and delivery. CETL-MSOR initially began through a grant from the Higher Education Academy to the Maths, Stats & OR Network to develop collaborations with the recently established Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs).  What started as an initial meeting has been so valued by the community that it has continued to be sustained some 10 years later.  The conference has always strived to provide a platform for those involved in all aspects of mathematics education.

With the current funding provided by HEFCE for sigma coming to an end in 2016, September’s conference in Loughborough will be the last that will benefit from the expert organisational and administrative support provided firstly by the MSOR Network (University of Birmingham) and latterly sigma (Loughborough and Coventry Universities). With the popularity of the conference continuing to grow, the sigma Directors have been exploring how CETL-MSOR may be sustained into the future.

In 2017, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) is organising an international conference on mathematics education. While discussions remain at a preliminary stage, sigma is exploring with its organisers whether this meeting might be held collaboratively, and as such co-sponsored, with CETL-MSOR. Such an approach would offer a number of benefits in that it would ensure the continuation of CETL-MSOR until 2017 (at least) and provide much needed administrative and organisational support. Indeed, such a union is a natural progression as CETL-MSOR has always included sessions that are broader than mathematics support alone with a focus also upon teaching, learning and assessment within the mathematical sciences in higher education.

As sigma Directors, we would like to explore the views of the entire mathematics support community to determine whether we should continue with this approach of exploring a joint meeting with the IMA. In particular, we welcome alternative suggestions, including whether there are universities who might wish to continue to run and host CETL-MSOR as a dedicated conference, with the support of the sigma Network community. If you have ideas, thoughts and suggestions, please feel free to contact Moira Petrie via

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Delivery and Management of Mathematics Support within the UK: SURVEY

Moira Petrie sigma Project Manager

We are looking for your help to map out the delivery and management of mathematics and statistics support within the UK.

Whilst the Tolley & MacKenzie (2015) report highlighted that mathematics and statistics support is a priority for almost all higher education institutions within the UK, it is clear that how it is delivered and managed varies within each institution across the sector. We are launching a survey to explore just this: the delivery and management of mathematics and statistics support and its on-going sustainability. We are also looking to explore the roles and recognition of staff involved in providing mathematics and statistics support within their institutions.  This survey consists of 23 questions and should take no more than 20 minutes to complete.

The survey can be accessed via and will be live until 31 March 2016.

All data collected will be treated in strict confidence and will not be shared in any way with your institutions. It will be used to contribute to the work of sigma, including as part of publications and guides; however where work is published or presented, individual responses and institutions will be in no way identifiable.  Whilst your name and institutions are requested, this is purely to assist with administering the survey, collating responses, and in case of further questions or follow-up.  

If you have any queries or require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Moira Petrie via
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The need for good procedures for sharing information

James Edwards, University of Bath

This is the sixth in a series of articles on supporting disabled students. We consider here the potential benefits that can come from sharing limited information with teachers about the specific learning differences of students in their class.

Close ties with Disability Services help with breaking down the barriers disabled students may encounter in their studies and ensures that Maths Support Centres can proactively improve accessibility (Emma Cliffe, Issue 4, 09/14). This is especially important when it raises awareness of the requirement to anticipate adjustments required by students.

Grid image

It is vital that disabled students are given sufficient choice regarding how much information (if any) is shared with staff. It is also crucial that support staff have access to sufficient training and that there is a clear process for how such information is shared.

Case study

Failing to correctly communicate data can result in difficult situations. A student with a specific learning difference may request staff are aware of the practical adjustments required and will be disadvantaged if their lessons are not accessible. In my personal experience, this can upset and demoralise students and necessitated a change in my approach to future lectures.

Some institutions give students control of how their disability access plan is shared. In one case, following frequent attendance at Bath’s mathematics support centre (MASH), a student asked that their plan be shared with support staff. This enabled the centre to improve the accessibility of the service offered to the student. As a consequence consideration is being given to when students should be asked whether their access plans can be shared with maths support, which leads directly back to the question of how to improve training for front line staff.

A passive attitude to meeting students’ needs can lead to reactive adjustments, greatly increasing the workload of teachers. Much better is the proactive approach to accessibility, where lessons and resources are tailored to anticipate the needs of students. In mathematics, this often includes the provision of notes prior to lectures in a format suitable for conversion to individual requirements. Educating staff on the reasonable adjustments that are required reiterates the need for communication between maths support centres and disability services. In this way we may strive towards a model in which teaching is accessible by construction.

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MSOR Connections

Moira Petrie, sigma Project Manager

The second issue of the MSOR Connections journal has been published. sigma has funded the printing of this issue and will be distributing a copy to all Mathematics Support Centres and all Mathematics Departments in the UK.

Additional copies of this and the previous edition (Volume 14, Issue 1) are available on a first-come-first-served basis from Moira Petrie.

For further information on MSOR Connections including published articles and guidelines for authors, see

MSOR Connections
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Janette Matthews

This is the last newsletter that Janette Matthews will be editing for the Network.  Janette is leaving her post with sigma to take up a full time lecturer position with Loughborough University’s School of the Arts, English and Drama.  Janette has worked tirelessly to ensure that the work of sigma has been supported and disseminated, through the newsletter, the sigma Network website and maintenance of the mathcentre and statstutor websites.  She has provided training to hub co-ordinators as well as support to those creating resources and to those organising the CETL-MSOR conferences and her calm, efficient and unflappable presence will be sorely missed here at sigma Central.  We wish Janette every success in her new role.

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New statstutor and mathcentre Community resources

A number of new resources are being added to mathcentre and statstutor following the resource funding calls and contributions to the Communities Centre projects. Recent additions are detailed below. If you have develeloped resources, either for students or staff, that you are willing to share with the mathematics and statstics support community, please contact Moira Petrie ( It may be possible to host these resources on Loughborough University servers thus enabling them to continue to be accessible in the future.
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sigma Eastern England Tutor Training - 2 March 2016

Dan Brawn, sigma Eastern England Hub

The sigma Eastern England Hub is holding a free new tutor training session on 2 March 2016 at the University of East London, Docklands campus. This free training day is for tutors who work in mathematics and statistics support centres or who otherwise support students to enhance their mathematical skills.

The course will be delivered by members of sigma, based around the sigma guide “Tutoring in a Mathematics Support Centre“. The training is ideal for Post Graduate tutors new to mathematics and statistics support but is open to anyone who wishes to reflect on the ways in which mathematics and statistics support differs from traditional lecturing.

This event is being hosted by the sigma Eastern England hub. We thank UEL for their hospitality.

To reserve a place at this FREE event, please email Dan Brawn

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sigma Midlands Hub event: Introduction to LaTeX – 21 March 2016

Paul Wilson, University of Wolverhampton

The sigma Midlands Hub is holding a free Introduction to LaTeX training day on Monday, March 21st 2016 at the University of Wolverhampton, City (i.e. Wolverhampton) campus. Note that this is the Monday before Easter.

This free training day from 10.00 am to 4.30 pm is for those who wish to learn the basics of the document preparation system LaTeX.

The course will be delivered by members of the school of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Wolverhampton and will include preparing basic documents, posters and beamer (“PowerPoint”) presentations.

This event is being hosted by the sigma Midlands hub.

To reserve a place at this FREE event, please email Paul Wilson (

Financial support to assist with travel costs may be available (to delegates from the sigma Midlands hub region only) if people would otherwise be unable to attend. Please contact Paul Wilson (, joint sigma Midlands Hub Co-ordinator, for information.

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Getting a Grip on Mathematical Symbolism – 18 April 2016

This FREE three-week online course, running for the fifth time on the FutureLearn platform from the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University, is aimed at students aspiring to study science and engineering at university. Through an accessible introduction to graphical and algebraic techniques students will start to think mathematically and develop an informal understanding of vital properties of points, lines and curves before formalising mathematically some of these essential notions. The course closes by reinforcing the importance of mathematics to science and engineering. Students may work at their own pace and complete the materials after the end of the three-week course.

To register:

Contact Tony Croft ( for further information.

Sustaining Excellence
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sigma Eastern England Hub event: Promoting and Evaluating your Maths Support Service - 25 April 2016

Hansa Bissoondeeal, University of Essex

The sigma Eastern England Hub is hosting a free networking event - ‘Promoting and Evaluating your Maths Support Service’ at the Silberrad Student Centre, University of Essex on Monday 25th April 2016 starting at 12:00.

If you are involved in the provision of mathematics and statistics support in higher education, this event will give you the opportunity to share your experiences on the promotion and evaluation of your service. Our aim is to inspire you and ensure that you leave with an “action plan” for the development of maths support in your institution.

12:00 Lunch and Welcome - Prof Abdel Salhi, sigma Eastern England Hub co-ordinator

12:30 Show and Tell: How do you promote and evaluate your service?

14:00 Tour of the Silberrad Student Centre

14:30 Coffee break

14:45 Exchange: What would you include in your action plan?

15:45 Closing Summary - David Bowers, Chair of the sigma Network

This is a free event including lunch and refreshments

For those working towards HEA Fellowship, attendance at and engagement with this event, and reflection on its implication for practice, could help to provide evidence towards elements of the UK Professional Standards Framework: A1, A5, K5, K6, V2, V3.

To register for this event or for further information, please contact: Hansa Bissoondeeal - .

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2016 CETL- MSOR Conference - 6/7 September 2016

The 2016 CETL-MSOR Conference will be held at Loughborough University from Tuesday 6 September - Wednesday 7 September 2016.

A call for presentations and registration details will be published here in March 2016.

For further information, please contact Moira Petrie (

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E-Assessment in Mathematical Sciences: 13-14 September 2016

Christopher Graham, Newcastle University

Newcastle University will be hosting an international conference on 13th-14th September 2016 to bring together researchers and practitioners with an interest in e-assessment for mathematics and the sciences. It will consist of a mix of presentations of new techniques, and pedagogic research, as well as workshops where you can get hands-on with leading e-assessment software. The keynote speakers will be

  • Professor Chris Sangwin of Edinburgh University,
  • Professor Michael Gage of the University of Rochester,
  • Dr Sally Jordan of the Open University and
  • Christian Lawson-Perfect of Newcastle University.

The conference will include presentations by speakers from around the world and workshops where you can try out the latest mathematical e-assessment systems.

The call for talk and workshop proposals is currently open. If you have some research or an innovative technique related to mathematical e-assessment that you would like to present, EAMS 2016 is the perfect venue. The conference fee is only £60 and includes a 3-course conference dinner at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. You can find out more about EAMS, and the forms to register for the conference and propose a talk, at the conference website (

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sigma South East Hub event: Numerical Psychometric Tests – 15 January 2016

Tony Mann, University of Greenwich

About thirty people attended a sigma South East hub workshop organised by Noel-Ann Bradshaw (Greenwich) about preparing students for numerical psychometric tests, an increasingly important part of mathematics support as so many students find these tests are a major hurdle in their search for a graduate job.

The morning session began with a talk by Elena Moreno of the Employability and Careers Service at Greenwich. Ele showed examples of the kind of questions used in tests, and told us about the support she and her colleagues offer students, such as training workshops and practice questions.

In the next talk, Eleanor Lingham (Sheffield Hallam) told us about the resources she has developed (while at De Montfort) – 24 worksheets designed to refresh students’ memory of basic numeracy procedures. These are available at In addition to demonstrating the worksheets Eleanor offered very useful advice and encouragement for anyone thinking of developing such resources.

In the afternoon Kate Croucher (FDM) gave an employer perspective, showing how nuanced the use of these tests can be – not all employers use them simply to reduce the size of the applicant pool. Then Janette Matthews (sigma) talked about the FutureLearn Numeracy MOOC which she created – a valuable resource for students lacking confidence, which has gained excellent feedback from its users. The meeting finished with some useful discussion. Delegates gained understanding of how employers use psychometric tests, what level of performance students need to be successful, the problems of confidence and nerves under pressure, and the importance of practice.

Delegate feedback indicated that the workshop was very valuable. I certainly gained a much better understanding of the requirements and expectations of employers who use these tests, and the challenge they present to students (the workshop delegates found the examples given during the day far from straightforward!) As a result I feel much better equipped to support students preparing for this part of the graduate recruitment process as a result of the workshop.

Delegates discussing over lunch
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sigma South West & South Wales Hub event: Beyond mathcentre: electronic resources for maths assessment and support – 22 January 2016

Emma Cliffe, sigma South West & South Wales Hub Co-ordinator

A sigma SW&SW meeting, Beyond mathcentre: electronic resources for maths assessment and support, was held on 22nd January 2016 at the Treforest campus of the University of South Wales. Martin Greenhow of Brunel University opened the day with a consideration of Embedding computer-aided assessment and other electronic resources in the curriculum. This lively and instructive account of approaches to computer aided assessment illustrated with examples both the benefits and pitfalls to avoid. Karen Henderson and Rhys Gwynllyw of the University of the West of England (UWE) then spoke about the DEWIS e-Assessment resources for Mathematics and Statistics. Karen gave a useful overview of options available for maths e-assessment highlighting the key differences, while Rhys provided technical insight into the DEWIS system including live examples of the system in use at UWE.

After lunch Rhobert Lewis, Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering & Science welcomed us to the University of South Wales and gave an interesting introduction to the university. In the afternoon attendees contributed to a show and tell sharing electronic resources which they felt should be in our toolkit. This fed into the final exchange session in which attendees were invited to locate a group to follow up with on topics of interest from the day. All resources mentioned were added to the sigma SW&SW resources list which we hope will continue to grow.

The workshop was well-received by the 12 attendees who gave feedback including: “Chance to see practice elsewhere & share our practice [was most helpful]”;“speakers all excellent too – learnt a lot”; “Both detail & scope was brilliant”and“[most helpful was] hearing about a variety of tools that may be useful and meeting people who know about them”.

Slides are available at

Martin Greenhow
Martin Greenhow, Brunel University
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sigma North West & North Wales Hub event:Embedding Maths and Statistics support into Sports and Exercise Science degrees – 10 February 2016

Ian Jarman, sigma North West & North Wales Hub Co-ordinator

A great day was had by all at the North West and North Wales (NWNW) regional hub event: “Embedding Maths and Statistics support into Sports and Exercise Science degrees”, hosted by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) on Wednesday 10th February.

The event was attended throughout the day by over 25 delegates, representing Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), University of Bath, University of Leeds, Coventry University, University of Chester and of course LJMU.

Professor Tony Croft opened proceedings introducing the role of sigma, followed by Dr Allistair McRobert (LJMU) who introduced everyone to Twitter to set up a truly interactive day where the emphasis would be on discussing the issues highlighted and offering solutions and innovative ideas. Allistair followed this up with an overview of the changing face of Sports Science students at LJMU where there has been a huge swing over the last 10 years from A-level to a largely BTEC student intake.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was after lunch when University of Bath, Maths and Stats Help (MASH) co-ordinator Cheryl Voake-Jones and SES students Fionn Sullivan, Jodie Lintern and Steph Plested showcased their MASH centre and how students were at the centre of continuous improvement.

At the start of the day we said success would be down to delegate participation. They didn’t disappoint, they were enthusiastic and fully engaged in the interactive sessions making for a fun day. This was also reflected in the feedback: out of the 14 replies 13 gave the overall event a rating of excellent, giving an average mark of 4.93 out of a possible 5, which is fantastic.

Dr Ian Jarman the sigma NWNW regional hub co-ordinator, would like to thank LJMU and especially the Sports and Exercise Science Dept. who helped organise the day but most of all everyone involved as the success of the day was truly down to their enthusiasm and willingness to participate.

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sigma North East & Yorkshire Hub event:Developing resources and use of technology to teach students – 12 February 2016

Chetna Patel, sigma North East & Yorkshire Hub Co-ordinator

The sigma event was held at the newly relocated Maths Drop-In at the University of Leeds on 12th February 2016. The day centred on two areas; numerical testing and the use of technology and was hosted by Graham Weston who is the newly appointed Maths Tutor at Leeds.

Numerical Reasoning Tests

The morning focused on Numerical Reasoning tests used by employers during the selection process and by the Department of Education for newly qualified teachers to gain the status as teachers. Chetna’s talk gave an overview of the tests with examples of level, format and how employers are making use of them. Additionally, a few issues were raised as to the appropriateness of these tests for all recruits and participants especially if they are considered exclusively without any thought given to the talents and abilities related to the main discipline the individual is being considered for. The talk finished with a brief look at what’s being offered at Sheffield University. This was followed by a talk by Eleanor Lingham now working at Sheffield Hallam who has developed 24 worksheets to support students practising for numerical tests; these worksheets were developed as part of a sigma award and are available from mathcentre. Eleanor not only provided us with an insight into how these worksheets had been created but also the motivation and the practical side of putting them into print (from putting in a bid to sigma to learning about copyright rules).

Pocket Guides to Resources: for Statistics Support Tutors and for Maths Support Tutors

Two resource guides are being developed for maths and statistics; currently available as pilots. We are keen to gather as much feedback as possible before we finalise them for rolling out in 2016/17. Both guides provide resources that tutors working in maths and/or statistics support can refer to to identify suitable books or websites to enhance their teaching. The guides do not attempt to provide a comprehensive list of resources rather a brief list of commonly sourced material. The philosophy underlying the selection and presentation of resources is to select the most useful resources that have been found to help tutors and their students, and present them in suitable categories. Please contact Chetna Patel or Ellen Marshall for a copy of the draft versions if you are interested in making use of them at your centre.

Surface Pro3 and a teaching tool

The use of technology to enhance and support student learning was enthusiastically demonstrated by Michael Cross and Helen Jackson from Bradford University. This was an interactive workshop in which five Microsoft Surface Pros 3 were circulated amongst the group. Michael demonstrated the usefulness of the Pros which cut down on the amount of physical material he and Helen would have to carry around on a daily basis as the Maths Support at Bradford has no fixed location. Although it was selected for its usefulness as an online ‘writing’ tool, especially important for maths teaching, some unexpected outcomes were seen. Simply by setting it up in front of them, students seemed to work more readily in groups. They had more of a sense of ownership of the work they were practising. The Surface, once on the table where the tutors were working, seemed to give the maths support service a better presence; this of course is crucial for a mobile service!

Hub delegates
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sigma Network Mailing list (SIGMA-NETWORK@JISCMAIL.AC.UK)

The sigma Network uses the sigma Network mailing list (SIGMA-NETWORK@JISCMAIL.AC.UK) to promote events and announce funding calls. The mailing list is also used by mathematics and statistics support practitioners to seek information and discuss items of mutual interest. Archives of previous posts are accessible from the SIGMA-NETWORK JISCMAIL home page.

Please encourage your mathematics and statistics support colleagues and tutors to sign up to the mailing list. It is possible to opt to receive a digest weekly instead of ad-hoc email communications.

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Recent reports and research publications

This regular column lists recent publications relevant to mathematics and statistics support practitioners. If you are aware of any publications that may be of interest to this community, please will you send them to Moira Petrie (M.G.Petrie). It is our intention to compile a bibliography which will be available from the sigma Network and mathcentre websites.


No reports were submitted for this issue.

Journal and Conference Publications

Cormac Breen, Ciaran O'Sullivan, Damian Cox (2016) Mathematics Learning Support across a Multi-Campus Institution: A Prototype of Virtual Support. MSOR Connections, Vol 14 (2)

Trevor Hawkes, Mark Hodds (2016) HowCloud:Round-the-Clock Maths Support. MSOR Connections, Vol 14 (2)

Deborah King, Joann Cattlin (2015) Facing the challenges of undergraduate mathematics education: findings from the FYiMaths project. Proceedings of The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (2015) Curtin University, 30Sept – 1 Oct 2015 pp 42-42,

Conference Presentations

No conference presentations were submitted for this issue.

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The sigma e-Newsletter is a quarterly community publication and the views expressed do not
necessarily constitute recommendations from the sigma Directorate.

We welcome contributions on any topic that may be of interest to practitioners and academics
supporting higher education students in their learning of mathematics and statistics. Please contact
Moira Petrie (M.G.Petrie).

The deadline for contributions for the next edition (June 2016) is 13 May 2016.

For more information, visit
or contact

#mathssupport, #statssupport

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