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Any secondary teachers with degrees not in maths?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by looby2306, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. P.S. My apologies for the dreadful spelling, I am getting over the half term flu my fella (physics teacher) has shared with me!!
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    You will need to do a Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course.
  3. DeborahCarol

    DeborahCarol New commenter

    Hi Looby
    My PGCE was primary (maths specialism) - my only Maths qualification before embarking on the PGCE being O level Maths. (My degree was Psychology).
    As well as teaching in various primary schools, I ran after-school tuition centres for several years, brushing up my own maths, and taught children up to 16 Number and Algebra. (Note I wasn't qualified to do this - eg one of the centres was a Kumon centre where teachers who are not qualified to teach secondary maths can do so if they've completed the algebra levels themselves.)
    Wanting to take KS3 students on a one to one basis privately, and in schools, I self-studied, and decided to take a GCSE to update myself on Shape and Algebra. I didn't find the geometry easy, but got an A* by the skin of my teeth.
    With that, and eight years of exerience of teaching up to 16, I regard myself as 'qualified/competent' to teach KS3 (Years Seven to Nine) only, and in fact at present I'm only teaching the weaker students in KS3. At a pinch, I could teach GCSE Foundation, but privately only, with the parents fully aware of my qualifications/lack of them. It wouldn't be right to put myself up for it in a school.
    In my opinion, with a B grade GCSE, you should certainly not be teaching children in a secondary school beyond weak Stage Three (say up to Level 5/6 tops).
    To feel confident, to be able to teach children the hardest algebra and trigonometry, to be credible to other staff and to the parents, to teach GCSE Higher, ie Years 10/11, you need A-level minimum (and ideally a degree in Maths if teaching A level). If you had kids, would you feel happy if their secondary maths teacher only had a B grade GCSE? And how would you feel admitting that if a parent asked you about your qualifications (parents of Higher GCSE often expect the maths teachers to have Maths degrees; they'll be OK A-level if they have confidence in the teacher, but not less!)?
    The gent you spoke of who had a degree in Mechanical Engineering - that's a very different case from Business Studies. He's likely to have had A-level maths and a high advanced maths content within his degree.
    I'm not saying this to discourage you, but, to teach maths well, we really do need to have a significantly higher level of attainment than the students we're teaching. There's no getting round it. (I'm currently teaching myself C1 A-level, and not finding it easy!)
    So, yes, you would have to do a lot of further study to teach maths at secondary, and that would be... A level Maths.
    Primary with maths specialism - you'd have no problem.

  4. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I think I am right in saying that the majority of UK maths teachers do not have a degree in maths. They will usually have degrees in the Physical Sciences, Engineering or Biology (yuk). Also, to be very frank, some of those on my PGCE course that did have maths degrees left me wondering how on earth they passed them.

    So, this is certainly not (at least in the UK) a requirement for teaching maths. And, as was mentioned in a previous thread, if you don't particularly want to teach A-Level there will be plenty of HODs who will be more than happy to let you manage the zoo while they cream off all the more motivated students.
  5. DM

    DM New commenter

    You will probably be able to get onto the MEC with that background. I know someone who did it who had no mathematics beyond GCSE and a degree in Fine Art.
  6. slstrong123

    slstrong123 New commenter

    In order to train on a Maths secondary PGCE you need a degree in Maths, or a degree with a sufficient amount of maths in it (eg mechanical engineering, physics?) or a degree and then complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course (ie MEC) before starting. MECs are 6-12months long depending on the provider and cover Maths from KS4 and most of KS5. They usually want you to have A level Maths, but not neceesarily if you can convince them you can do it. They are intensive and hard work, but you can then be in a position to teach all abilitites in the 11-18 age range.
  7. DM

    DM New commenter

    Some SKEs only last for two weeks.
  8. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    I have a degree in Statistics with Computer Science. It was not tough for me to teach A level and IB HL Mathematics. However, there are some components which I do not teach like the mechanics papers in the A level syllabus. The management of the school knows that I am the Statistics specialist. I have a friend who has a DT degree and he taught ICT for 7 years in the UK. He learnt from an experienced teacher at his previous school and learnt on his own a lot. The stuff we learn at Uni is partially used when we teach high school but working at a high level of abstraction at uni helps us to teach comparatively low level mathematics to the students.
  9. zippycfb

    zippycfb New commenter

    Hi m91
    It is of course down to the individual course providers discretion, but I don't think you would have a problem getting on the enhancement course then the PGCE. My Maths A-Level grade was worse than a D and I still got on. Much of the year long enhancement course was A-level stuff and I really appreciated having a second stab at it.
    I emailed the admissions tutor at the university I wanted to apply to and asked if they would consider me as I also didn't see the point in applying with such a poor A-level, but they were very encouraging and told me to go for it. Obviously there isn't much competition for places so this definitely helps. If you can convey your enthusiam for the subject at interview then you'll be fine.
  10. DM

    DM New commenter

    Could I interest you in an avatar Guish?
  11. zippycfb

    zippycfb New commenter

    Which reminds me, thanks for the avatar DM :)
  12. DM

    DM New commenter

    It suits you.
  13. Or you can do the Open University equivalent of the MEC - the Undergraduate Certificate in Mathematics (modules Mst121 and Ms221).
  14. So why do so many 'borderline C-D' GCSE students struggle with 45 divided by 3, and what sort of maths qualification is needed to be able to teach division?
  15. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    Thanks DM
  16. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    I was thinking of A level/ IB HL candidates when I made that comment. You do not require the skills you get from a degree to teach GCSE/IGCSE. Teaching division is more about intuition and creativity I'd say.
  17. I am a Maths teacher and my degree was in Psychology. I did a 7-14 PGCE Mathematics, meaning I could teach Maths secondary or become a primary school teacher afterwards. No MEC. I chose that route because I've always loved and been strong at Maths, always wanted to teach, and my particular interest was in educational psychology and teaching students with SEN. I have an A at GCSE and an additional A in GCSE Statistics, but my A Level was only a D (serious personal circumstances, plus that was considered 'good' at my school :/). I opted for the 7-14 because back then I wasn't completely confident that my maths would be good enough for a secondary PGCE involving A level work (which I have no interest in), so 7-14 kept my options open.

    I had no trouble on the course, loved it completely, I had to brush up a bit as I went (GCSE was 10 years ago) but it was fine. Although my course meant I focussed in KS3, my placement school was great in helping me get a wide range of experience, up to lower group year 11. I also lucked out in that although I was placed there for KS3, they didn't 'do' KS3: students in year 7 started foundation GCSE, moving onto higher in KS4, which meant I had GCSE teaching experience, which I think was pretty vital.

    I had no problem getting a job, was hired at second interview and only lost on the first to an internal candidate. I stressed my focus in SEN and teaching lower ability though. I was honest in that I could not teach A level, and that I didn't think I'd be able to do justice to upper school top sets because of my weak A level and lack of degree. I am now teaching year 7 middle and bottom set, year 8 near bottom, and year 9 middle and near bottom (GSCE). The school was positive about my honesty and limitations, and we agreed those could be areas for development. In many schools I think they reserve their top sets at GCSE and A level classes for their better or more experienced teachers, so that was not a problem, although obviously I'd be a better canditate if I could teach a wider range. My big love is SEN and teaching low ability, which definitely worked in my favour!

    I would say though that I know from when I started applying some secondary PGCE providers seem wary of students without degrees. MECs can fill up very quickly at popular Unis, and on an open day one said they would not even consider applicants for MEC/PGCE with below C at A Level. He said he'd consider my D and circumstances given I had A at GCSE Maths and A in Stats. He put the cut off because he said he didn't think people with below that would cope with the level of the MEC, let alone teaching afterwards. Given that I'd be surprised you'd be recommended to apply without an A Level at all. Given the recession and new numbers of people opting for teacher training (bursaries! Paid for year!), particularly buisnessmen moving to Maths teaching, it may still be a shortage subject but now things are getting competitive.
  18. I have qualified this year, and I have a HND & BSc in Electronic Communication Engineering. Before I started my PCGE, I did a six-month maths enhancement course. I wanted to do it, as it had been a while since I had been in school and I knew methods had changed, but also my knowledge was rusty, but the uni I went to also made it a requirement for entry onto the PGCE. I really enjoyed it and glad I did it. Some of the people on my PGCE did do a two-week course. I think it depends on your own confidence and the university you apply to.The biggest issue I am finding now is securing a job as school are looking for applicants to have a maths degree.
    Best of luck.
  19. First, the use of anyone in the UK that uses the term "high school" should send alarm bells.
    Most people would use secondary school - is it me, or are an inordinate amount of people on this site NOT teachers in the UK?
    Why do they struggle to do 45 divided by 3?
    Two reasons that spring to mind...(a) Due to the curriculum in primary schools, too few pupils have learnt their times tables, (b) Few primary teachers are really good at division themselves.
    When I attended primary education (in the 1970s) we spent huge amounts of time doing divisions and multiplications. Now, primary teachers "think" the pupils will get bored...the curriculum has changed and educational ideas have changed, so pupils arrive from primary without the "proper" arithmetic skills.
    But of course, these skills are hardly worthwhile, are they? We have calculators on our mobile phones! Who needs arithmetic skills? The fact that "we" can do most multiplications quicker than it can be typed into a calculator or mobile phone is irrelevant!
  20. DM

    DM New commenter

    I work in a high school brambo as do others.

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