School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Steve Humble MBE

Head of Education


Awarded MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to Education in the 2016 New Year's Honours list.

Watch my TEDx talk - Slum Super Stars - African talented children alleviating poverty 

A Lecturer in Education teaching on Secondary and Primary PGCE maths with extensive experience working as an educational advisor to both government and schools. 

My research focus is to improve access, choice and quality of schooling in a developing context. Thus I'm currently working with some schools and children in Africa and India regarding gifted and talented children. 

I was asked to become an advisor on the Russell Group A-Level Content Advisory Body (ALCAB) seeking to advise and inform Ofqual of the views of Russell Group institutions and others within the Higher Education Sector, on the content of A-levels . 

I am a Member of the European Mathematical Society (EMS) committee for Raising the Public Awareness of Mathematics in Europe. We organise popularisation activities in europe such as "Mathematics in the streets of Krakow" in July 2012

In my role as a maths publicist (Dr Maths) I write puzzle books and a fortnightly newspaper column to help create greater public interest and understanding of mathematics. I hold the Guinness World Record for the most children learning maths outside the classroom.  1001 children on a Maths Treasure hunt

I am external examiner for the PGCE course at Teesside University.

Editorial board for 'Archimede' Journal for teaching and recreational mathematics (Founded 1902)

I have developed and managed large scale outside maths events (1,000 plus children at each event) such as Maths in the City, Maths in the Malls and Maths on the Beach. The Maths on the Quayside event was held on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th June 2007, with over 2,600 children from 70 schools taking part. More information on these can be found at 

I worked for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) for five years, developing a strong regional and national infrastructure linking fellow stakeholders in the maths community. This I feel enables teachers to network and progress, as I believe one of the main roles of NCETM is the unification of the maths community. 

With NCETM  and Learning Outside the Classroom I sourced funds, managed and development the site called Learning Maths Outside the Classroom . The aim of the site is to encourage teachers to think about taking children outside the classroom. The case studies span all phases - early years, primary, secondary and post 16. The site contains forty plus case studies and five professional development modules. The cases studies are in the themed areas; School Grounds, Natural Environment, Places of Worship and Charities, Museums and Art Galleries, Farming and Countryside, Built Environment and Heritage, Sports and Adventurous Activities and Family Learning. 

I taught for 21 years in a range of educational establishments: Comprehensive, grammar, private, single sex, 11 to 18, 13 to 18, 4 to 18, sixth form and FE. Exam question writer for OCR.


Current Research 2016


Research to investigate how parental preferences and household characteristics affects school choice for their children. Using discrete choice models (McFadden, 1974) to directly test large household data sets to see whether the parents preferences and demographics affect the choice of attending different school management types (Government, Low-cost Private, Faith Based Mission, Community and NGO schools)

Research into learning and teaching in schools catering for low income and poor families in India. Comparative analysis of student outcomes in different school management types. 

Utilising both quantitative and qualitative methods to carry out case studies looking for associations between pedagogy, teacher training, teacher ability, children's innate ability and background, to inform policy and practice with regard mathematics educational structures.  

ESRC project 2014-2015 
Research focusing on high ability students to act as peer monitors in the transfer of knowledge to other children in poor parts of Da Es Salaam. 

Watch my TEDx talk - Slum Super Stars - African talented children alleviating poverty 

Handbook of International Development and Education edited by P.Dixon, S.Humble & C.Counihan

Events and Conferences:

October 2016

My discovery of a new mathematical pattern May 2013 (see article in The New York Times on my research paper Triangle Mysteries ) has created 'buzz' of interest around the world to develop new maths to solve the open problems that my pattern uncovers in the area of commutative semigroups and the general characterisation of medial magmas. See for example Yossi Elran. Recreat. Math. 2 (2014), 53-58 & Michael A. Jones et al. Maths Horiz. 23(2015), 22-25

Abelian and Non-Abelian Triangle Mysteries published by Lon Mitchell, Michael Jones and Brittany Shelton

The American Mathematical Monthly in October 2016 is an exciting paper which solves one of these questions. 

Keynote: 'Learning Maths Outside the Classroom" at Every Child Counts - Scotland National Numeracy Conference 

September 2016

Article in the New York Times - Crossing the Pool

March 2016

The Conversation articles - Why '7' is the luckiest number & Pi might look random but it's full of hidden patterns

February 2016

The Conversation article - How to build a time machine

January 2016

The Conversation article - The 22 Million digit number and the amazing maths behind primes

November 2015

The Collins Blog, Freedom to Teach - A Mathematical Rendezvous

Sept 2015

The Collins Blog, Freedom to Teach - 'Coding is back in town'

The Conversation article - 'How to get children to want to do maths outside the classroom'

June 2015

Number Festival at Newcastle University 27th June to 5th July 

The Collins Blog Freedom to Teach - 'The Magical Number Seven'

New York Times 'Number Play' - Steve Humble Neighbour Problem 

May 2015

 Slum Super Stars - Alleviating Poverty in Talented Children in Africa 

University of Connecticut, Invited speaker by the Neag Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development, Center for Education Policy Analysis and Office of the Dean at the Neag School of Education, and the Office of Global Affairs

March 2015

Author of the Month Routledge Education

How to be Inventive when Teaching Primary Mathematics Routledge, April 2015

January 2015

The Collins Blog Freedom to Teach - 'A Number of New Year Resolutions'


November 2014

The Collins Blog Freedom to Teach - 'Football's a game of two halves'

June 2014

Guinness World Record Maths Treasure Hunt on the Quayside - 1001 children

EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF14) - Street Math with the European Mathematical Society. Watch a video of the 'Street Math' team in action. 

March 2014 

Big Bang Science Fair - Practical maths workshops for students (4 years to 21 years), teachers and family groups 

February 2014

17th February - Article in The New York Times on my research papers The Randomness Game and Winning Odds.

Irish Engineering Week - Mathematics Engineering shows throughout Southern Ireland.

Lectures at  Edgehill University to trainee teachers

November 2013

Prince's Teaching Institute weekend teacher CPD days

Workshops - "Catch me if you can" and "The Good (odds, evens, squares), The Bad (Pascal) and The Ugly (Random)"

The Prince's Teaching Institute. Mathematics Teachers Conference

Workshop - "What's Luck got to do with it?"

October 2013

Irish Maths Week - Maths Shows "What's luck got to do with it?" 

Show throughout Ireland. For example shows at INTEL

September 2013

 The Randomness Show at the British Science Festival - patterns, chance and mathematical magic

June 2013

Schools Out for Summer: Quayside Giant Classroom

Prince's Trust teacher Conference on Proof - Works for all?

FACE teachers conference - Maths on the Farm

May 2013

13th May - Article in The New York Times on my research paper Triangle Mysteries

Toulouse School children experimenting with my pattern in their playground 

April 2013

Mathematical Association Annual Conference.

Workshop - Emotional mathematics across the curriculum  

March 2013 

February 2013 Irish Engineering Week - Maths Engineering shows throughout Southern Ireland. 

Maths in the Malls - Primary schools event   

Festival of Maths - Newcastle University and LIFE

January 2013 NCETM North East Network meeting - Workshop on Teachers Beliefs 

November 2012  Prince's Teaching Institute teacher CPD weekends

October 2012 Irish Maths Week - Maths shows "Secrets, Lies & Maths" throughout Southern and Northern Ireland  

March 2012 

  • Code Breaking at Big Bang Science Fair Birmingham
During 2012 gave a series of Maths on the Farm all day workshops organised by Farming and Countryside Education (FACE)

March 2011

  • Seeing the World with Mathematical Eyes at IMA Mathematics 2011 Conference, London
February 2011 Randomness Show at Numeracy Counts Conference to launch NIACE’s National inquiry into adult numeracy learning. 

October 2010
  • MOSI Manchester Science Festival. Maths shows called Hidden Secrets from the World of Dr Maths
 July 2010
  • Maths Busking, developed and gave performances with the concept with Royal Institution
  • Busking at BIG Conference at LIFE, Newcastle

8th & 9th June 2010 How to Talk Maths in Public. Conference Chair for this IMA conference on Public Engagement

October 2009 – Irish Maths Week
  • Developed Maths Walk in Dublin city centre
  • Presented Maths shows, workshops and events for teachers and students throughout Southern & Northern Ireland

July 2009 Inspiring Mathematics Champions. Primary project at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

6th June 2009  Cheltenham Festival – Created and jointly presented “Magic Numbers” show with Carol Vorderman. 500+ family audience

June 2009
  • Maths on the Beach. 1400+ students. Culmination event of a years CPD with 14 schools.
  • Mathtastic events for Keystage 3 at LIFE science centre.  1,000+ students
  • Developed with Teacher TV – Teaching Out of the Box – KS3 Maths; Out of the classroom into the Gallery
  • SSAT Maths and Computing conference – Workshop to 70+ teachers on how to teach sequences by looking at randomness
  • Leeds University Teacher conference – Keynote to 70+ teachers on how to teach sequences by looking at randomness
  • MEI Teacher conference. Presented two workshops (1) Learning Maths Outside the Classroom (2) Maths in Work Video

May 2009 
  • Maths on the Farm workshop held at Spring Barrow Lodge Farm in Leicestershire. Organised by Farming and Countryside Education (FACE)
  • Maths in Work video workshop at the IMA 4th Maths Works Conference
  • Hartlepool`s Maritime Maths Experience – working with The Industrial Trust, Hartlepool LA and teachers

March 2009
  • Newcastle Science week:
8th March. Film Pi with post-film discussion. 60+ general audience  

11th March. Hidden Secrets from the World of Dr Maths. 100+ family audience

  • Alnwick Gardens Guinness World Record for the largest Maths Class.

January 2009
  • Maths in the Malls. 28th, 29th and 30th. Originated, marketed and managed this event of a Maths walk, maths magician and maths art at the MetroCentre shopping Mall. 1000+ students
  • Mathtastic events for Keystage 2 at LIFE science centre. 2,000+ students

Educational books and materials:

Fortnightly Dr Maths columns in the Evening Chronicle Newspaper, starting in Nov 2004. 

Created a logic walk for the London Underground 150 years - The Tube Trail encourages families to find out more about the Underground as they travel through the network of stations, platforms and railways.

I am the author of a number of maths books, my latest puzzle book titles include:

Code Breaker Explorer: Improve mathematical logic skills using the world of secret codes, which holds a fascinating air of mystery, with secret agents trying to discover the enemy’s plans before the enemy discovers theirs. This book takes its inspiration from the secret world of spies and code breaking. 

Times Table Explorer: Make learning Times Tables fun by following the 30 Quests in this book – “from exploring rivers, climbing the tallest buildings in the world, trekking across the Gobi Desert, to finding gold in a sunken Spanish galleon”.

Also in the series are Addition Explorer, Subtraction Explorer, Division Explorer, Fraction Riddles and Number Shape Magic.

Maths for every day! 366 primary maths activities for every day of the year. This calendar gives 366 Maths starters for KS1 and KS2. The starters are linked to events from that day in history, including Egyptians, Romans, Tudors, Victorians, WWI, WWII, famous people, special numbers, art, science, poetry, literature and a whole lot more. 

Playground Maths Activity Cards

Helping to make teaching outside the classroom meaningful, stimulating and challenging  

Become a Maths Wizard with Creative Magic Easy to learn and perform. Create your own unique magic tricks. Children and adults will improve their mathematical skills in a friendly and fun way. This book is available for download on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iBooks and on your computer with iTunes. 



Postgraduate Teaching 

PGCE Secondary Mathematics

PGCE Primary Mathematics

MA (International Development and Education)

EDU8211 Education Policy and Entrepreneurship for Development

EDU8214 International Development: Theory and Practice

EDU8216 Placement Module

EDU8215 Dissertation: International Development and Education