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pound;15m centre for maths teaching

A pound;15 million national centre of excellence for maths teaching is to open in June, as ministers try a new approach to the problems facing the subject.

Plymouth university's centre for innovation in mathematics teaching will run the centre, which has been in development for three years, in partnership with Tribal Group, the education services company.

The centre will appoint about 300 "pathfinder" schools around the country where teachers will team up and observe each other's lessons, before suggesting areas for improvement.

These staff will work with neighbouring schools to try to improve maths teaching.

The centre does not aim to replace traditional training. It will provide a "Kitemark" quality assurance scheme for other professional development providers.

The centre's website will also offer free resources, activities, tests and other support material for teachers.

The setting up of the centre was first recommended by the advisory committee on maths education in 2002, and endorsed in last year's report on the subject by Professor Adrian Smith, principal of Queen Mary college, London.

Suggested funding for the centre and associated regional networks in the Smith report was much higher, at pound;92 million over three years, compared to the pound;15m the Government is providing for 2006-9.

David Burghes, head of the Plymouth university centre, is the centre's acting director. The Government will advertise the post before it opens in June next year.

Celia Hoyles, the Government's chief adviser for maths, said: "The national centre will provide a much-needed infrastructure to establish sustainable programmes of continuing professional development for teachers of mathematics."

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