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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Dr Rachel Marks is a Principal Lecturer in Mathematics Education (Primary) in the School of Education. She teaches across BA (ITE), PGCE, MA and EdD programmes and makes a substantial contribution towards research activity in the School. She is a qualified primary teacher and has previously taught in inner-city and rural primary schools for five years.

Rachel sits on the School Senior Leadership Group as Learning and Teaching co-leader, leading approaches to enhancing learning, teaching and assessment quality across courses to support student achievement, including assessment & feedback enhancement, embedding blended learning pedagogies, supporting the use of digital learning and learning technologies, embedding study skills across courses, and working with the Associate Dean to develop and implement the Academic Health action plan and to utilise data (including KPIs) to inform identified priorities.

Rachel is also the Year Lead (Academic) for the PGCE Primary (and School Direct Tuition) 3-7 and 5-11 courses, leading on course design, delivery and development, leading and managing ~30 lecturers across five academic modules and supporting all aspects of course and module level assessment including statistical reporting to the Examination Board. Previously she developed new, highly-successful, Masters-Level modules for the PGCE courses, with these being redeveloped for online delivery in response to Covid-19.

Previously, Rachel chaired the School of Education Tier 1 School Research Ethics Panel (SREP) leading a panel in assessing applications and advising on ethics across the School. Rachel also sat on the Social Science Cross-School Research Ethics Committee (Tier 2).

Rachel completed her ESRC-funded PhD thesis on ability grouping in the primary mathematics classroom in 2012 and her book ‘Ability-Grouping in Primary Schools: Case Studies and Critical Debates’ was published in February 2016. She is currently Principal Investigator on a Nuffield funded project (£61,354.00) conducting a country-wide survey of the use of curriculum support materials in primary mathematics. She has previously worked on a diverse range of research projects funded by the Nuffield Foundation, Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, including international evidence reviews.

Supervisory Interests

My supervisory interests include teaching and learning in primary schools, particularly in primary and early years mathematics. I am also interested in the social context of schooling, policy and assessment, including interests related to ability-grouping and equity issues. I am interested in supervising projects involving mixed methods approaches as well as large-scale literature reviews including meta-analyses.

Approach to teaching

I teach across several courses within the School of Education, contributing to learning and teaching on the following modules:

  • EdD Stage 1 & 2: Teaching (data analysis) and PDA/supervision
  • KV712: Designing your research proposal
  • KV741: Critical perspectives on education
  • KV713: Research project
  • EP722: The Professional Enquiry (Module Leader)
  • EP720 / EP721: The literature review (Module Leader)
  • EP720: PGCE Primary Maths 3-7 (Module Leader)
  • EM617: (BA Primary Subject Study and Specialist Mathematics): Contemporary issues in mathematics education

In response to Covid-19, I have re-developed EP720, EP721 and EP722 modules on the PGCE for online delivery and now advocate a blended approach to learning & teaching drawing on the affordances of virtual and face-to-face environments.

My aim is to engage all students in current thinking in education as they develop as critically reflective practitioners. I constantly update module content to reflect the growing research, evidence and policy base in education, providing students with the tools to critically evaluate a wide corpus of literature.

Across my teaching – which includes mature students, recent school leavers and workplace learners – I employ a variety of inclusive approaches with a strong focus on discussion. Much of my teaching draws on my experience as a classroom teacher and as an educational researcher, supporting students in engaging with up-to-date educational theory, policy and practice. My approach – particularly to mathematics teaching – is highly interactive giving all students the opportunity to develop as confident and competent teachers of mathematics.

Research interests

My research interests include teaching and learning in primary mathematics, the social context of schooling, policy and assessment. My particular interests are in ability-grouping and equity issues. I have extensive experience in conducting large-scale literature reviews using a range of review methods including meta-analysis.

Current research activity

  • Principal Investigator: “The prevalence and use of textbooks and curriculum resources in primary maths” (Nuffield Foundation Award no. EDO /FR-000022614) (£61,354.00)
  • Principal Investigator: “Examining the academic and professional trajectories of Covid-19 ITE entrants: A case-study” (University of Brighton QR Funding Award) (£480.00)
  • A meta-analysis of the use of number-lines in mathematics teaching & learning (with colleagues from University College London, Loughborough University and Cardiff university)
  • I am involved with the Learning without Limits Network at Cambridge University exploring approaches to education (across sectors) which reject notions of fixed ‘ability’

Selected previous research projects (see publications list for fuller details)

  • Co-Investigator: Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) “Systematic Review of Evidence on Teaching Mathematics in the Early Years and Key stage One”, led by University College London (£29,918.00)
  • Co-Investigator: Drinkaware commissioned project “Drinkaware for Education Process Evaluation” (£50,000)
  • Principal Investigator: Maths No Problem! commissioned study “Examining newly qualified teachers’ use of textbooks to support a mastery approach to mathematics teaching in the primary school: a case-study” (£15,000)
  • Principal Investigator: British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM) “Research Review of BSRLM Conference Proceedings (2003-2017)” (£4,000)
  • Co-Investigator: Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) “Systematic Review of Evidence on Teaching Mathematics in Key stages 2 & 3”, led by University of Nottingham (£23,360)


Knowledge exchange

  • Executive Board Member and Publications Officer, British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM) (2019 – 2023)
  • Vice-chair of the Editorial Board for FORUM journal (for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education)
  • Invited national expert to the Mathematical Futures Programme: Mathematics Education Policy in the Future (Royal Society/Sheffield Hallam University)
  • Invited Advisory Group member to the Equity and quality in local learning systems (EQuaLLS): the case of primary maths CPD (University of Nottingham) project
  • Co-convenor of the Early Years and Primary Mathematics Working Group [BSRLM]
  • Reviewer for multiple journals and educational publishers including: Research in Mathematics Education, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, Educational Review, Routledge, Learning Matters.
  • Book reviews editor for FORUM journal (for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education)

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, King's College London

Award Date: 1 Feb 2012

Master, King's College London

Award Date: 31 Aug 2006

Master, King's College London

Award Date: 31 Aug 2005

Bachelor, University of Wales

Award Date: 31 Aug 2000


  • LB1501 Primary Education
  • Mathematics education
  • Early Years mathematics
  • Assessment
  • Literature review


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