My friend and colleague Rosamund Sutherland, who has died aged 72, was an internationally acclaimed professor of mathematics education.
She was a pioneer in demonstrating how students’ learning in school can surpass expectations with the support of expert teachers and digital technology. She piloted new ways in which institutions can, through cooperation, begin to overcome educational inequality.
Born in Birmingham, the daughter of Percy Hatfield, a physicist, and his wife, Joan (nee Reynolds), Rosamund spent her formative years in south Wales and attended Monmouth school for girls. Excelling in mathematics, she attended the University of Bristol, where she met Ian Sutherland. They were married in 1968.
Rosamund’s research career started when she met Professor Celia Hoyles at an Open University summer school. They applied for research funding for what became the Logo Mathematics Project – a study of how a computer programming language could enhance mathematical understanding.
From 1983 until 1995, Rosamund worked at the Institute of Education in London. She co-directed a curriculum development project on the use of spreadsheets by young engineers. In 1995 Rosamund was appointed to a chair in education at the University of Bristol and was later head of the graduate school of education.
With colleagues, she developed a “socio-cultural” model of learning – an approach that emphasises the social, economic and cultural contexts that influence understanding, language and learning.
Her mathematical expertise was recognised in 2000 when she led a Royal Society/Joint Mathematical Council working group on the teaching of algebra in schools. She also published several books including Teaching for Learning Mathematics (2005), Improving Classroom Learning with ICT (2009) and Social Justice and Education in a Digital Age (2014).
In her final years, Rosamund became involved in the establishment of the new Merchants’ academy in south Bristol. She was shocked and angered by the poverty within the community and the low levels of student attainment. Among her final projects was the Future Brunels Programme, which encourages young people into careers in science and engineering. She was a trustee of the SS Great Britain Trust. On the news of her death, flags on the ship were flown at half-mast.
Rosamund was a devoted mother and grandmother who loved family activities, travel, skiing and sailing.
She is survived by Ian, her children, Joanna and Andrew, and her four grandchildren, Hugh, Percy, Skye and Vyvyan.