Peter Virnuls

Senior Lecturer in Education - Mathematics Specialism

Peter VirnulsI graduated with a Chemistry degree in 1995. During my ‘sandwich’ degree, I completed an extended 15-month placement researching the use of Ozone to remove pesticides and other organic waste matter from drinking water with a one of the largest water treatment providers in the country. Additionally, as part of my final year dissertation, I undertook a research project exploring the potential of Bentonite Clay to absorb radionuclides leached from radioactive waste repositories.

In 1996, I undertook a PGCE in Secondary Science (with a specialism in Chemistry) and, over a period of many years, have used my passion to work in a variety of educational settings. Initially in secondary schools, but as my passion for understanding how to design effective instructional experiences has developed, I have particularly enjoyed the diversification to applying the ideas to new and varied contexts.

In 1999, I embarked upon an MA in Education; this enabled to further understand how to teach effectively and lead schools to effective improvement. In the final stages of my MA, I developed a real passion for transferring my skills to the area of Primary Mathematics.

As part of my school career, I have worked in a variety of roles and schools and have been responsible for the development of mathematics, the curriculum, behaviour, assessment and reporting as part of a variety of Senior Leadership Teams.

This period ran from 1995 until 2009, where due to the proposed restructuring of the school system in which I worked, I took opportunity to work at the University of Bedfordshire.

In this period, I was the course leader for the Specialist Mathematics Programme (MaST). This was developed as part of a consortium of six universities to deliver Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to existing Primary school teachers in the wake of the findings of the Williams Review (2009).

This involved the design of a dual mode programme to expose teachers to both effective teaching of mathematics through a range of specially designed tasks, as well as the use of existing research to further the journey of improvement once the course had finished.

As a result of the collaboratively constructed programme, the University of Bedfordshire were successfully awarded the National Centre for the Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) CPD Standard as we were able to demonstrate a sustainable impact on the quality of mathematics education in schools.

These successful aspects of the mathematics programme were also implemented within the undergraduate teacher education programmes. I was also course leader for the BA Primary Education, helping to write a significant number of the units on the current programme. I also supervised MA students in the field of mathematics education.

In 2014, I returned to work in a Primary school setting - in order to gain experience of teaching under the 2014 National Curriculum. Being three years into a PhD, I also wanted to situate myself in a classroom to further absorb the nuances of teaching and learning mathematics and build upon my previous experiences. My PhD study is centred on understanding the barriers to a deeper understanding of arithmetic at the end of Primary school through looking at those experiences that provide greatest impact on understanding.

During my time at the school, I undertook a variety of roles including Head teacher, Class Teacher and Assistant Head Teacher in charge of data, assessment, the curriculum. For a brief period, I also held the role of Child Protection Officer (CP0)

In September 2016, I returned to the University of Bedfordshire where I currently teach on the Primary BA (delivering the mathematics components of the course), the PGCE Primary and PGCE Secondary Science Specialism.

Other References


  • BSc Applied Chemistry - De Montfort University
  • MA (Education)  –  Open University
  • PGCE (Secondary Science) – University of Leicester
  • PgCAP – University of Bedfordshire
  • PhD – University of Bedfordshire (submission due October 2017)

Teaching Expertise

  • Undergraduate Initial Teacher Education
  • Postgraduate Initial Teacher Education (Primary and Secondary Science)
  • Undergraduate mathematics strand lead
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s dissertation supervision
  • All ages of compulsory education (R to Y13)

Research Interests

  • Research Informed Practice
  • Gender differences in the teaching workforce
  • Pedagogy -  particularly but not exclusively in the field of mathematics
  • Assessment


  • Development of Teacher Subject Knowledge
  • Development of arithmetical understanding in Primary-aged children

External Roles

  • External Examiner at Liverpool Hope
  • Associate Lecturer University of Northampton


  • BERA Early Researcher Conference Sept 2013 “ Exploring barriers to relational mathematical understanding” Conference presentation.

Contact Details

T: +44 (0)1234 400 400 ext 4114