Who am I

This is my personal website. I also have several others:

  • Peter Gates Politics my site for all things political (that aren’t maths teaching related – which itself is highlight political!)
  • Teaching Mathematics a site for all related to teaching mathematics
  • Visualization in Maths a very new and undeveloped site, intending to examine the issue of visual and spacial aspects of learning mathematics

I live in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, having retired from working at the University of Nottingham in September 2017. I have been a socialist for 50 years, joining the Labour Party in June 1994. I fully supported the shift in the Party that lead to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as party leader. This led to me being targeted in a witch-hunt by the right-wing and increasingly dysfunctional Disputes Unit, which led to my deciding I could no longer be associated with the a party with such internal corruption. Consequently I resigned from the Party in 2020.

I spent all my professional working life within the professional field of education – firstly as a mathematics teacher and advisor in the UK and Africa and then as mathematics educator in three UK Universities. More recently I have gravitated to become more rooted within a research environment in the sociology of education especially in the area of social disadvantage. Much of my professional work in Higher Education over 25 years has been directly related to teacher education, teacher professional development and equity and social justice – most notably within the area of mathematics education. Through my direct work with students, teachers and schools, as well as through my work as an external examiner for a number of initial teacher training providers and as a referee for several academic journals, I have developed a broad and eclectic vision of issues in teacher education, and an understanding of structural models for providing an effective context for new teachers to develop their pedagogical expertise.

Professional Background

I worked at the University of Nottingham between 1993 and 2017. For 10 years I taught social research methodology to masters and doctoral students and practice-based inquiry to teachers. Prior to this I taught on the Post Graduate Certificate of Education for prospective teachers of mathematics for many years. Prior to coming to Nottingham, I worked at the School of Education in Bath University (1990-1993) and the Open University (1988-1990). Before moving into higher education I worked as a Mathematics teacher in London (1976-1977; 1980-1983) and Milton Keynes (1983-1988)  and was a teacher and Regional Educational Advisor in Moçambique (1978-1980).

Academic activity

Although I began my career within the field of mathematics education, my research activity  is located within more generic social research deliberately focussed within a local Nottingham context. This has been important for me because of my commitment to research that makes a difference to people’s lives. As a result I have built up wide networks with external agencies in the region and now am in the situation of having frequent requests to engage in further research.

My work in the field of mathematics education where I do have an international recognition. My current research interests are in the areas of vocational mathematics, visualisation and pedagogical strategies, equity in mathematics education.
In my teaching, I have worked from undergraduate through professional to doctorate level, offering courses to aspiring and established teachers as well as other professionals working as teacher educators themselves. In my research supervision, I have worked at M.Phil., Ed.D. and Ph.D. levels with researchers from the U.K. and many other countries in teacher education and development, language and teaching, subject knowledge of primary teachers, child labour, education and employment.

A considerable focus of my early research was in developing our understanding of the structure of teachers’ professional knowledge by developing eclectic models of teacher values and beliefs that incorporate sociological and psychological perspectives. This approach offers us some fresh insights into the barriers to professional growth and teacher change. My more recent research and writing has focussed more upon the social implications of mathematics and mathematics education as well as moving more broadly to issues of equity and social justice in the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Administrative activity

I was for many years Director of Research Studies in the School of Education at Nottingham – one of the four Executive Directors in the School. This placed me in a management role in the School, and as a member of the Executive Management Group of the School, I had responsibilities over the management and strategic development of the School. Specifically, as Director of Research Studies I was required to manage the strategic development of our higher degrees programme and prepare our submission for ESRC accreditation as well as for our 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. One of my key strategies was to integrate more closely our research degree programmes with the research priorities of the School, and to provide, in the face of competing priorities, high quality facilities and conditions for our research students as well as structurally and strategically integrating research training and education within a dynamic research culture. I relinquished this post in 2009.

I also have had overall responsibility for research training and for supervisor training and the examination of research students within the School of Education. I developed a strategy designing a greater proportion of our research training through on-line learning, not just to facilitate more targeted material, but also to provide greater opportunities for our part-time students to benefit from high quality training. This e-strategy is also a feature in a new Masters level course I developed for new teachers. This was an innovative course, which creates a seamless transition from initial training through induction to early professional development and beyond.
In addition to all the previous work in the School of Education, in my time here I have been elected by academic staff to serve as staff representative on the University Senate, and this provided me with experience of the organisation and administration at a broader University level.

I am currently a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and have undertaken reviews for the Irish Research Council

International Activity

Over the years, I have played a national role in mathematics education, through my membership of the Executive Committee of the British Society for Research into the Learning of Mathematics. In addition, I have achieved international recognition through my election in 2001 to the International Committee of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (IGPME) – no mean feat for someone who considers himself more of a sociologist than a psychologist. PME is the major international research forum in mathematics education. In 2003 I became the Vice President of PME and in 2004 as a result of the president’s serious car accident I became the acting President of PME. This, along with my work in the Mathematics Education and Society Group, as a member if it’s International Committee, illustrates my involvement in research activity at an international level.

I have a passionate commitment to improving the educational experience and opportunities of those children who seem to be disadvantaged by the present social and educational systems. My own early employment history consistently placed me in areas where one common feature was the challenge of working with pupils and parents who achieved less that they seem capable of, and who felt powerless to do much about it. I have worked as a teacher in Dagenham, East London in Beira, Mozambique and in Milton Keynes and each of these environments has provided me with particular challenges in this respect.

My recent research has focussed on the immediate locality in which I live and work – namely the city of Nottingham. My research over the past 6 years has had considerable influence and impact on local policy in the areas of widening participation, teenage pregnancy, access to higher education, the structure of further education, and in early intervention. Teaching and research for me has to be about making the world a better and a fairer place for all.


A list of my publications, articles and reports on mathematics education, equity, computer gaming etc. etc. can be found here.

1 thought on “Who am I

  1. Robin Lovelock

    Hi Peter. I stumbled on your lovely walk from Henley past the home of that Swiss rascal who likes polo – trying to find more about that rather high stonehenge that has appeared. There is a new “Walks” page on my website on http://www.gpss.co.uk/walks.htm and my full contact details are on my “Contact” page. I loved reading your profile: very different background to me, but a lot in common too 🙂 Robin http://www.gpss.co.uk and http://www.nhscare.info and http://www.gpshobby.info Don’t get lost 🙂


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