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£££ to train to teach mathematics

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by DM, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. mmmmmaths

    mmmmmaths New commenter

    Ok I will answer myself.
    From the consultation document " We will expand teach first" ".....who have good degrees from elite universities and outstanding personal qualities"

    From Teach First " The teach first Leadership development program ........focuses on developing them As a leader of learning as well as Giving the participants skills and knowledge around Leading organisations And leading people"

    So it is more about attracting the bright young things who will spend minimum time as a classroom teacher and will follow the accelerated track to SMT that has become so apparent over the past decade.

    So why keep discussing whether a good degree will make a good classroom teacher for our innumerate, our SEN, our low ability, our unmotivated, our C / D borderline, our A / A star pupils. If they are good they won't stay in the classroom for long, if the aren't good teachers they will be trained as good managers so won't stay in the classroom for long.

    Soon we can just miss out the classroom teaching bit, get a good degree from an elite university and go straight in as a HOD then on to SL. The tiered entry highlighted by the tiered bursaries can continue with tiered progression routes through the profession. After all, why waste time learning the trade in the classroom when you have the outstanding personal qualities and management training to lead those who made the strange choices to stay in the classroom for 5, 10, 15 or more years. Silly them!
  2. I find this quite an interesting and difficult topic to comment on. I've just finished my GTP in secondary maths and as such I've had a lot of contact with other trainee teachers - both those on my course and other PGCE/GTP courses (in person and online).
    Before I go any further, I should probably add a catch-all IMO to pretty much every sentence which is to follow ...
    Putting maths aside for a moment, I really worry for the next crop of pupils given some of the trainee teachers I've met and had dealings with online and/or in person. Some seem to be great on all levels. Many, however, seem to be drastically lacking in common sense and an appreciation of academia in general. They want to teach their subject because they like it as a subject, and think others will too ... but there's not much beyond that.
    For evidence of the lack of common sense, feel free to pick a few random threads from any of the student/prospective teacher forums (both on TES and the web at large). Countless inane questions asking things which could have been solved by a) adose of common sense, b) reading the dozens of near-identical questions already asked or c) applying yourself to a bit of thought and/or research.
    And look at how many have to resit their QTS skills tests countless times (according to a recent thread, the record is 58 attempts before passing!!). Whether you agree with the tests is, I would agree, largely irrelevant. The fact is that trainee teachers know that they are there and, if they are committed and intelligent enough to teach hundreds of young people then they should be capable of passing the tests. If they don't have the knowledge/skills right at the beginning, then surely they should be able to work out how to learn what they need in order to pass.
    I absolutely agree that having a 1st Class degree in Maths/Science/anything will not make you an excellent teacher in that subject (I have a 2:2 - albeit from a top uni!! [​IMG] , and it's not even in Maths!), and I've seen some people fall by the wayside when that became clear to them. However, I do feel that something needs to be done to up the overall standard of trainees being selected for teacher training at the moment.
    A more rigorous selection process needs to be central to that, as does attracting people with the abilities to develop into excellent teachers.
    Rather than 1st = £20K, 2:1 = £15K etc, I'd much rather see a national/regional testing process used to identify applicants with a mix of characteristics, skills and achievements which are deemed to be good indicators of potential (something akin to what is used in various Scandanavian countries if memory serves from some of my research a while ago). The results of these tests, together with a weighting in relation to priority subjects could then be used to offer certain incentives to different individuals.
    I've written and re-written this post dozens of times now ... hopefully it's not too long, isn't too offensive, and makes sense!
  3. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Nice post MasterMaths and I agree with all of it. The field of Maths teaching is lucky to have you [​IMG]
  4. The vast majority of Maths lessons in the UK secondary mainstream sector could be taught by non specialists who learn the subject as they go.
    Teachers are those who can teach, some mathematicians happen to make teachers. The two things are wildly different in many cases.
  5. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I totally of agree and while I value the fact that we are a "profession" and hope that we remain so - the fact is that A good A Level in maths is more than enough subject knowledge (it trerms of raw qualifications) for the vast majority of 11-16 lessons.

    Subject Knowledge (of a different kind) i.e experience and understanding of how maths is learnt, key concepts that need need be developed, the structures that need to be in place etc etc and then the pedagogolical knowledge and teaching ability to actually work with children and pass on this knowledge (not least of which is classroom management) is MUCH more important.

    As I said while both is desirable I would emply a good teacher over a good mathematician 100% of the time. The required subject knowledge can be developed by the majority of people I have ever met and support can easily be provided from the subject specialists in the department- the ability to teach is simply beyond some people.

    If someone has classes that are completely out of control with no learning taking place then it does not matter if they are they have the subject knowledge of Stephen Hawkins the kids will learn nothing from them.
  6. Hi Mike
    Yes, I live with all of that.
    I think the horror of parents and fellow teachers when they hear about 'low levels of subject knowledge' should subside when it is realised that these teachers are not doing A level lessons in the majority of situations. They are the folk trying to be a solid consistent bod in front of classes in schools where 40% A*-C is the norm and are delivering up to the edexcel foundation standard paper.
    Those spending time bettering their subject knowledge and understanding how to pass that on have my respect. If 50% of your kids are not getting C grades in the current climate I would suggest all the subject knowledge beyond GCSE is pointless and expectations, discpline and support are the key features required.
    Many folk who get degrees in maths dont even touch KS/4 maths anyhow . I attended a teacher training day with lots of 'new to be PGCE students' recently and less than 1/4 knew what circle theorem were....
    If you can control 8Z on a Friday last period and are willing to better yourself you have the job in my opinion as there may alwasy be a place for you <u>somewhere</u> in the department servicing the needs of kids.
  7. Wowza. So they take the 5k 'Golden Hello' away to save money and then replace it a year later with a big boost in busaries, that really makes mathematical sense! Or have a read the reason for the GH's going incorrectly?
    It's a shame about those with thirds though. I know people besermch these grades for a degree but the best maths teacher I ever observed and worked with had a third class degree, was a HOD for one year and raised the GCSE A*-C pass rate from 22% - 61% within that year.
    It wasn't about being a brain box in front of the children, it was about imparting his knowledge to them. It's a shame that he'd be counted out from any of this even though he and his second (who was a 2:2) were consistantly rated as outstanding. In fact his second went on to be a leader of excellence.
    We had a CS who had a first in mathematics, had been working for a big company earning lots and decided it wasn't for him. He came to our school hoping to go onto the GTP. He didn't even last half a term. He just couldn't speak to the children. When I asked for his assistance one lesson for vectors and bearings he just looked at the book and shrugged.
    Having a brilliant qualification does not make one have outstanding teaching potential. Of couse, there are probably loads of people with first's who have outstanding teaching protential, but they're smart enough to go and take that first to a big firm and earn three, four, five times the amount that they would as an NQT and retire many years before their fellow alumni who went into teaching.

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