Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME)

Announcement of new chair for independent maths committee

06 October 2008

Professor Dame Julia Higgins has been appointed as the new chair of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) it was announced today (Monday 6 October 2008).

She takes over from Professor Adrian Smith who is stepping down to take up a new role as Director General of Science and Research at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

Professor Higgins said: "ACME plays an important role in offering independent and constructive advice to Government on maths education. There are currently significant decisions in train concerning the future of GCSE mathematics and I am looking forward to being involved with these, as well as other issues affecting mathematics, as Chair of the committee."

Professor Higgins is Senior Research Investigator in the Department of Chemical Engineering and former Principal of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College. She has been President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. She was Vice President of the Royal Society between 2001 and 2006 and Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 2002 - 2007.

She is an advisory committee member and former chair of the Athena Project, which aims for the advancement of women in science, engineering and technology (SET) in Higher Education.

Professor Adrian Smith said: "My new responsibilities at the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills have led me to step down as Chair of ACME. The Committee's ability to influence the national agenda for mathematics education derives from its independence from Government, as well as its expertise. This makes it inappropriate for me to continue in the role."

ACME offers independent advice to the Government on mathematics education on issues such as the curriculum and the supply and training of teachers.


1. The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) is an  independent committee, based at the Royal Society and operating under its auspices, which acts as a single voice for the mathematical community on mathematics education issues, seeking to improve the quality of such education in schools and colleges.  It advises Government on issues such as the curriculum, assessment and the supply and training of mathematics teachers.  ACME was established by the Joint Mathematical Council of the UK and the Royal Society, with the explicit support of all major mathematics organisations, and is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. 

2. The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. As we prepare for our 350th anniversary in 2010, we are working to achieve five strategic priorities, to:

  • Invest in future scientific leaders and in innovation
  • Influence policymaking with the best scientific advice
  • Invigorate science and mathematics education
  • Increase access to the best science internationally
  • Inspire an interest in the joy, wonder and excitement of scientific discovery

 For further information contact:
Sue Windebank
Press and Public Relations
The Royal Society, London
Tel: 020 7451 2514/2250

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