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How does having an MA affect one's career?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by DleP, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. DleP

    DleP New commenter


    I'm a maths NQT thinking about my next steps in my career.

    One option I have is to do a masters degree, most likely in Mathematics Education. I'd quite like to do this partly because I'd be interested in it and would like to understand the research behind my practice better. But also because I would hope that it would affect my career positively - but I'm not sure how, and indeed if, it would.

    So I'm wondering: if you've got an MA, how has it affected your career? If you recruit staff, is that kind of higher qualification something you look for? Or do you have any other perspective on this?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. DleP

    DleP New commenter

    A little bit more context: my BA is in English Literature, and I know that some schools prefer all their maths teachers to have maths degrees. Could a maths education MA make up for this deficiency, do you think?
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I'm quite surprised that you were accepted on to secondary maths teacher training without a maths based degree.

    Doing the masters would affect your career only in the sense it might improve your ability in the classroom (not saying you aren't already fabulous, but more knowledge always helps). A masters in maths education is likely to overlap an awful lot with your training, so won't be half as useful as you might think. However, if you are interested in the theories of learning maths and enjoy study, then it certainly won't do any harm.

    Much, much later in your career a masters in some kind of leadership could well be useful when applying for those positions, should you go down that route.
  4. DleP

    DleP New commenter

    I'm a Teach First person, they don't insist on subject specific degrees and the universities they work with (in my case, the IOE) seem to take their word that we'll probably do all right without. So far I seem to be.

    You're absolutely right of course that more knowledge always helps.

    Do you think that only a masters in leadership would be useful for moving into leadership positions? Or might a maths ed one be of value there as well?
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Wow! Didn't know that. I assume people need to have A Levels in their subjects at least!

    A maths ed masters will be of no value career wise, except to demonstrate that you enjoy studying and can work hard and manage your time.
    Tinycat1234 likes this.
  6. DleP

    DleP New commenter

    Oh god, I've got an A level in maths! I got an A and everything! Just not a degree.

    ETA: Just re-read your comment, had misunderstood first time. Yes, you do need an A level, of course.
  7. DleP

    DleP New commenter

    Fair enough on the maths ed front, thank you.
  8. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter


    If recruiting a teacher I would want to see evidence the candidate was good at teaching.

    Not really.

    If recruiting a leader I would want to see evidence the candidate was good at leading.
  9. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Do you just want to teach in England?
  10. secretteacher2357

    secretteacher2357 Occasional commenter

    I have a masters that has been very useful in my career. However it is in a very specialist area (SEND) and it meant that when a SENDCo position came up I was the most qualified to take it.
    My research project also ideally positioned me to lead cpd on teaching and learning for SEND students.
    However this has all come about while I was already on the school. It had little or no impact on my initial hiring - it just came in useful later on.
    Tinycat1234 likes this.
  11. Sanz1981

    Sanz1981 New commenter

    Think about it. You're only doing a masters because there is funding. You wouldn't do it otherwise. What would you have done
    Curae likes this.
  12. Curae

    Curae Lead commenter

    In my school there have been HTs that have fewer formal qualifications than our poorly paid technical staff who held post doctoral qualifications and were published and this has frequently been the case. It really doesn't matter as most career progression in education will be 'satisfied ' by CPD middle management through to NPQH. Yes there will always be someone looking at CVs that want a first from Oxford followed by a PhD from Harvard ...but that's rare.

    Now if it's a passion of yours that's a whole different kettle of fish ..I for one intend to do my PhD during retirement and out of interest.
  13. Tinycat1234

    Tinycat1234 Established commenter

    No I really don’t think an MA in maths will.
    You need to make sure you have meaningful appraisals and be vocal that you’re ambitious and keen to climb the ladder. Do the best you can do in the classroom and google lots of job adverts that you like the look of and see what they are asking for.
    Agree that SEND seems to be the only area where a post grad is useful.
  14. BYusuf

    BYusuf Occasional commenter TES Careers peer advisor

    In short, it does very little for your career. The advice you have already received shares possible ways in which it *may* help with leadership.
  15. dts

    dts Occasional commenter

    A counter-point to some of the views above - I took an MSc in education leadership, and was told that my willingness to undertake further study had been a factor in appointing me to my current position. What I suspect really helped was that I had had the opportunity to take some time to reflect on leadership within teaching, to read more widely, and to meet teachers from a wide range of schools. I could definitely put together a stronger application and a better interview performance post-Masters, although I would agree that the qualification itself doesn't necessarily open many doors.
  16. freida20

    freida20 New commenter

    personal view but as your degree is in english surely you would be more likely to be appointed if you had an MA in maths?

    purely anecdotal reasoning but -
    Firstly, I know someone else who did PGCE maths with a non-math degree and she only teaches to KS4 - lucky this is what the school required at the time but maths is a shortage subject so you could say you'll be in demand anyway or you could say you will be pipped at the post by someone who has that specialist degree. How much maths specialist training did your uni do? You already got a job - discuss with the school career proogression.
    secondly different subject but i do know that RE teachers with a masters in philosophy are the subect specialists often snapped up to push A'level grades up because of their depth of knowledge and expertise. If you were looking at HOD jobs you would want to understand the subect at all levels so could lead planning and so on.
    thirdly, think about how your area of study might benefit the school? I know those that have developed research in areas of pupil premium and closing the gap have moved up the SLT ladder as this is what helps the pupils, makes the school look good and helps with Ofsted. Talk to your school - they might even financially contribute if it supports the development of the school!
    Good luck whatever you decide!
  17. OneLooseCrank

    OneLooseCrank New commenter

    A point on wider funding; schools are beginning to struggle to fund a fully staff institute and are running what I deem a 'skeleton crew'. Academies are now allowed to employ unqualified teachers into teaching roles, cover supervisors have whole class responsibility but no remuneration for such. A masters degree increases your own costs in becoming highly educated, which you might feel earns you greater opportunity, when observationally, the opposite is happening to reduce a school's labour costs.
  18. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I did an MA in Education with the OU about 20 years ago. The school even paid the course fees. I found it very interesting and certainly improved my understanding of how children learn and their development. I focussed on modules directly related to classroom teaching. However, in terms of how it benefitted my career progression I must say that once I had completed the course I was viewed with suspicion by colleagues. I offered to pass on some ideas to fellow staff at staff meetings but the offer was never taken up by SLT so although I personally got a lot out of it, the effect it had on my career was negligible. I suppose that if I had done leadership or management modules it may have helped my progress up the greasy pole.

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