Realistic Maths Education

Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) was originally developed in the Netherlands, and is widely used there.  In RME, mathematics is developed through contexts which are used not only to illustrate the applicability and relevance of mathematics in real world situations, but also as a source for the learning of mathematics itself.  Contexts can be taken from the real world, from fiction or from an area of mathematics that students are already familiar with - the important thing is that students are able to imagine and engage with them.

The RME curriculum uses contexts which have potential for model building, and teachers encourage learners to gradually refine the informal strategies which they naturally bring to a problem. Experience shows that, through staying connected with the context, students are able to continue to make sense of what they are doing, without the need for memorising rules and procedures which have no meaning for them.  When students work in context, rather than in the abstract, they are doing more than learning a particular type of mathematical technique.  They are using mathematics to solve problems.

Using Realistic Maths Education in Post-16 Contexts

The principles of Realistic Maths Education (RME) make it an approach that is well suited to a post-16 resit learning environment: problems posed in realisable situations provide an access point for all learners, leading to the use of models and representations that are personally meaningful.  In our work with post-16 resit teachers, we focus on the development of strategies which enable students to re-engage and regain confidence in their ability to make sense of mathematics.  

Read about our intervention project with GCSE resit students, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.


View our Teacher Resources

For more information on our CPD courses, please email us at