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Developing world-beating maths teachers 'to take a decade'

Discussion in 'Education news' started by chelsea2, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter


    One part of this report I found interesting:

    'In particular, all trainee teachers who will teach maths should have higher qualifications than at present, both at primary and secondary level, they argue.

    All primary teachers teach maths, argues the report, but most have not studied the subject since they were 16.

    Currently trainee primary teachers must have at least C at GCSE maths but, in the long-term, the authors want all trainee primary teachers to have studied maths to 18.'

    - I suspect there are a number of people forced to teach some maths in secondary schools who do not have an A level in the subject;
    - Not really sure why a higher qualification in maths is needed to teach primary maths. I have taught Y6 maths and never needed any knowledge outside my rusty O level, even when teaching to level 6. Why would someone teaching 7 year olds need A level maths?
    - In primary schools, there are many maths lessons taken by people without even a GCSE / O level in maths - HLTAs & TAs. Now that IS a problem which should be addressed.
    darklord11 likes this.
  2. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    If having A level maths was a requirement to get onto a Primary PGCE then a) there are going to be huge drops in numbers, probably resulting in large numbers of lecturers losing their jobs, and admin support etc and b) it's not going to help with the alleged teacher shortage, is it!
  3. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    An A-level would be evidence that candidate Primary teachers have are proficient with the arithmetic, at least, that they are required to teach. A GCSE is not necessarily such evidence.
  4. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    I didn't click on the link.

    I did read this much of the OP:

    " 'In particular, all trainee teachers who will teach maths should have higher qualifications than at present, both at primary and secondary level, they argue. ...."

    At which point I concluded:

    More of the same old, same old, same old, same old, same old, same old, same old, same old.......
  5. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Take a look at some of the Primary maths discussions around here some time and then ask yourself if that would be a bad thing.
  6. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I admit to knowing nothing about A level or GCSE maths, but I assumed at A level that the 'arithmetic' part of maths was done using a calculator / spreadsheet. Would you be writing long multiplication / division sums, for example, out on paper for A level? Would having an A level enable you to better explain why we exchange a ten into ten units in order to do a subtraction such as 73 - 28?

    I would have thought better training for prospective teachers would be the way to go.....oh, silly me, there isn't very much proper training going on, now, is there - just the expectation that prospective teachers learn 'on the job', perhaps replicating the practice they see.
  7. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    Point taken.

    Therefore children will have to decide to train as a Primary teacher at the point that they apply to 6th form so that they have the right A Level choices.
  8. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Why not a requirement to have A level English then? Just as important in my view. All primary teachers teach English/literacy, so the same should apply.
    monicabilongame and snowyhead like this.
  9. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    By A-level all candidates should be able to perform the necessary arithmetic in their heads, have it already stored there. Where calculators are permitted on A-level papers, they will be largely for graphical functions and for checks on particular steps in a solution they must show on paper. Any candidate who requires a calculator for basic arithmetic likely does not know how to use it to solve the problem before them and this is what is found at the beginning of Year 7, students who ask for a calculator don't know how to use it. Primary should not permit reliance on calculators. They waste time and impede learning, particularly in relation to multiplication tables and division upon which so much of Secondary success rests.

    Hence ACME's suggestion. A C in GCSE maths isn't a reliable marker of facility.
    monicabilongame likes this.
  10. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    Need maths to 18 for Primary teachers?
    I think we would have fewer primary teachers.
    Will maths improve? I think not.
    monicabilongame and snowyhead like this.
  11. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Keep up @Vince_Ulam the effective use of a calculator is not part of the national curriculum for mathematics at KS2 and they are no longer permitted for any part of the KS2 mathematics tests.

    I studied mathematics as an option during ITT at university (degree in primary education NOT a one year PGCE), it was a cross-over from GCSE to AS level. It certainly didn't prepare me to teach primary mathematics, even to level 6 standard because much of the tuition was unrelated to the primary curriculum.

    'A' level mathematics is not necessary to teach primary mathematics, however, what is needed is a thorough grounding in the methods needed to teach the whole of the KS1/KS2 programmes of study, incorporating the 'deepening of understanding' now required of the new NC. The PGCE and Schools Direct training routes are not long enough to permit trainees to get a thorough grounding in the most effective methods to teach mathematics.

    As another poster has said the biggest issue in primary education is the fact that many head teachers regularly timetable HLTAs to teach core subjects when they have rarely studied beyond functional level mathematics themselves and certainly have had no training in how to teach a variety of mathematical methods in order to reach all children.
    irs1054 and chelsea2 like this.
  12. darklord11

    darklord11 Occasional commenter

    Same old gimmicks. What the hell has our education system been churning out over the last tree decades of Off bullock rule.
    Grade inflation to claim impovement and blame teachers if things go wrong.
    They should be asking where are all the teachers.
  13. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    @snowyhead, sweety, you know I love you but if Primary teachers weren't encouraging their students to use calculators for basic arithmetic then they wouldn't be arriving in Year 7 ignorant of their tables, counting on their fingers and - wait for it - asking for calculators.
    monicabilongame likes this.
  14. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter


    Well, here's one primary teacher that never allows her pupils to use a calculator. Tables are taught the old fashioned way - by rote, including division facts for each table. I 'shame' children into learning them (yes, I am quite the wicked teacher). Guess I am one of a dying breed. Probably for the chop very soon.

    From what I have seen over the past few years it's young teachers in their twenties that have poor arithmetic skills because they relied on calculators in KS3 and KS4 and this is evident in their classroom practice. I abhored Mr Gove, but he was right to remove the use of calculators from KS2.
  15. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Here's something which bears out my point about Primary teachers and calculators, a 'calculation policy' for the Hewett Cluster of schools in Norfolk:

    Students will be encouraged to look at a calculation or problem and decide which is the best method to use: pictures, mental calculation with or without jottings, written calculation method or a calculator. Encourage students to ask themselves:

    ‘Can I do this in my head?’

    ‘Can I do this in my head using drawings or jottings?’

    ‘Do I need to use a written method?’

    ‘Do I need a calculator?’

    This document, and the rest of it makes for interesting reading, is a single example of why Primary maths needs an overhaul. It's one big cluster-something, that's for sure.
  16. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Yarg! It would be interesting to know when that was written - prior to the new NC (2013) is my guess. Another bone of contention I have with it: they refer to children whose first language is not English as 'EAL students'. Good grief.

    This is what the new NC says about calculators in KS1 and KS2 mathematics:

    Information and communication technology (ICT)

    Calculators should not be used as a substitute for good written and mental arithmetic. They should therefore only be introduced near the end of key stage 2 to support pupils’ conceptual understanding and exploration of more complex number problems, if written and mental arithmetic are secure. In both primary and secondary schools, teachers should use their judgement about when ICT tools should be used.
  17. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  18. spartacus123

    spartacus123 Occasional commenter

    How do you shame children into knowing them?

    I presume you don't hit them with a ruler like in my day. Or humiliate them in public?

    1234 x 267.
    Should I do it in my head? Drawings? A written method Or use a calculator?

    I know what I would do.
  19. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  20. spartacus123

    spartacus123 Occasional commenter

    Do you have an issue with calculators?

    Or should no problem in primary school be solved with a calculator? Ever?

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