We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Janet Duffin Award goes to Julie Alderton and Sue Gifford for their paper Teaching mathematics to lower attainers: dilemmas and discourses, which appeared in RME Volume 20, Issue 1.
Julie is based at the University of Cambridge (Faculty of Education) and Sue is based at the University of Roehampton (Department of Education).
The Janet Duffin Award is presented annually for the most outstanding contribution to the Research in Mathematics Education journal. The 2018 award was decided by a poll of BSRLM members, who were invited to vote for the article they judged to be the most significant contribution to the journal in 2018. Julie and Sue’s article was a clear winner receiving 36% of the votes.
The authors gave the Janet Duffin Award Lecture at the June 2019 BSRLM conference in Birmingham, where they were presented with the award by Amanda Hobson and other members of Janet’s family.
This article draws on Foucault’s concepts of power and discourse to explore the issues of teaching mathematics to low attainers in primary schools in England. We analyse a data set of interviews, from a larger study, with the mathematics teachers of one child across three years, showing how accountability practices, discourses of ability and inclusion policies interrelate to regulate both teachers and student. We demonstrate the impact of neoliberal policy discourses on teachers’ practices and how they are caught up in conflicting ways by an accountability regime that subverts inclusive pedagogies, requiring teachers to monitor, label and assign within-child deficits. In spite of these regulatory technologies we identify contradictory fault lines between mathematics education policy discourses which we argue provide the potential for developing critical awareness of accepted practices and opportunities for change.