This paper makes a significant contribution to contemporary debates over the direction curriculum reforms should take. It challenges claims that progressive pedagogies can exclude disadvantaged learners from gaining access to powerful knowledge and argues that greater attention needs to be given to learner agency and subject didactics. It reports on the findings from the Visible Maths Pedagogy research project, which aimed to develop and evaluate strategies for making progressive pedagogies more visible to mathematics learners. Evidence collected from student surveys and interviews suggests that these novel strategies were successful in heightening students' appreciation of the teacher's pedagogic rationale for employing progressive teaching approaches. They appeared to have a positive impact on students' mathematical engagement and awareness of how to achieve success in the secondary school mathematics classroom, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The findings highlight the potential of progressive pedagogies made visible for establishing an alternative didactic situation based on socio-mathematical norms associated with ‘sense making’, rather than ‘answer getting’, which can help develop students' individual and collective agency. We argue that such a didactic situation offers a pathway towards a more equitable mathematics curriculum that enables wider access to powerful knowledge, and which forms an integral part of a school curriculum designed to address the environmental, economic and social challenges currently faced by our global society.
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