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Improve primary maths by appointing specialist maths teachers

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by PaulDG, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. and they have more money per pupil, which means a higher teacher-pupil ratio, and the option to pay huhger salaries, and they have fewer (if any) sen/ebd but not statemented kids leeching their teacher/ta resources, and therefore their staff budget
    gee - and they can be more flexible about staffing - who'd have thought it?

  2. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Often not that much more. Where there is more, it's often swallowed by extra-curricular activities.
    and the option to pay lower salaries. Which many do.
    State schools can be more flexible about staffing too.
    In secondary, we cover the hours for the kids not by having the same teacher in front of the same kids all the time but by having specialists teach all the time, just teach different kids.
    If a primary has enough teachers to ensure a teacher is in front of every class all the time then it has enough teachers for some of them to specialise and only teach, say, maths, MFL, English and so on.
    Independents choose to do this (not least because their paying customers demand it), state schools choose not to.
    I can only think of 2 reasons why they [state primaries] don't - "because we've always done it this way" and "because we want to do it this way".
    If it's the second, then it's a deliberate decision to provide sub standard teachers for some kids in some subjects some of the time.
    So it's no wonder parents are prepared to pay for the alternative. What's sad is that so few can afford to do so - which is the ideology behind Gove's academies and free schools; that state schools should be able to change things to teach the way fee paying parents want (not saying I agree with him, nor that I think he's doing it even remotely well, just pointing out that's why he's doing it).
  3. hairdo

    hairdo Occasional commenter

    Primary Schools, in general, could do with thinking a bit more creatively about staffing. The only things I could see that prevent this flexibility (beyond continuing to do something because it's the way it has always been done) is the idea that one teacher has one class, and that some schools are fixed in teaching maths and English in the morning only. If maths and English were taught across the whole day there would be more scope for more flexible timetabling using expertise.
  4. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    It used to be like that at my school three years ago. I used to have 7 students in an A level Mathematics lesson. However, an independent school run by businessmen won't be providing this for a long time. I now have 20 students (mixed abilities) with some going for IB HL and A levels in the same room.
    Not by much. If you consider the amount of time and energy you need to invest in a private school, you won't say that you're over-paid.

  5. don't be so touchy - i never mentioned anyone being over-paid - i know at secondary school round here there is an issue of competition for staff from private schools - ask any head - though i suspect it's also to do with not having to teach rat-faced waynes (© nomad) - i imagine it's the same at primary level

    hairdo - i was thinking about this morning/afternoon divide as well - made worse by many primaries having no afternoon break, which i assume makes for one amorphous afternoon lesson (we do have an afternoon break, so i'm a bit vague on this). i suspect it makes sense at infants' - some r-y1 kids at least still fall asleep in the afternoons - but not at juniors - we have some core lessons in the afternooon, but not many
    more important is surely the number of classes - we are 3 form entry, but there are still plenty of one-form entry jmi's out there, and heaven knows how they'd rotate specialist teachers (mfl is even more of a problem - i'm the only person on staff confident to teach an mfl, and i'm spoken for - we've dropped it altogether)
    having class teachers trained, monitored, mentored and moderated to ensure they have the skill sets to teach core subjects, i still think is a more practical solution. and serious review of methods used in the school to provide variety without confusing kids as they move from class to class/ teacher to teacher. (specialist teachers are no barrier to 'all change' as the kids move to anew teacher - even in a 3 form school, i doubt it would be possible with shifting specialists to give a group the same teacher each week, which could be even more confusing)
    (ps - i'm no fan of one-form entry jmi's, and would never have sent my own kids to one - but they're there, and to change them requires a building programme, not just flexible mindsets)
  6. I'm a PGCE trainee. Have a look at the student teacher forum and see the number of primary trainees who are cr*pping themselves about passing the QTS tests. The mental arithmetic section of the test is what trainees fear most, but it's just basic fractions, percentages and decimals. While I'm sure these people will make wonderful teachers in other areas of the curriculum, I would NOT want them to teach my children maths.
  7. ...and maths is one of those subjects where people can happily list the areas they are struggling with.
    Im sure if the criteria for all other subjects was a as explicit as it is for maths then you would have many more who will fall short in some/many/most other subjects.
  8. The criteria for English is also explicit; spelling, tenses, punctuation, use of connectives, use of adjectives, paragraphs etc etc etc. As a KS2/KS3 trainee who is about to start the primary part of her training, I can tell you that I would definitely fall short in the teaching of art and PE. While I recognise the importance of those subjects, the school system is so narrowly focussed on the results in Maths and English. I'd love to work in a primary when I qualify, and would be the first to put my hands up and say I'd be a rubbish teacher of art of PE. So wouldn't it make sense then for me to swap my art and PE lessons with someone more competent in teaching the subjects, and the school could use my maths specialism effectively.
  9. hairdo

    hairdo Occasional commenter

    Yes. makes sense but would require some forward thinking and flexibility in primary teaching. Some may argue that the pastoral side of particularly earlier years teaching requires children to have a class teacher. I think maths and science teaching could go back to back with English and History/geography and teachers could teach to their strengths....at least in KS2.
  10. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Indeed. And, in fact, middle schools are very good at this. And have specialists from the age of 9 instead of waiting till 11. Much like the independent sector. But they are a dwindling breed because cheap through primaries are much ... cheaper!
  11. we have a 'word of the week' board - i am apalled by how often a word is mis-defined (by say using an online definition that is out of date eg feisty as bad-tempered rather than spirited/plucky) and how often a verb is defined as though it were a noun etc (eg 'dithering' - a person who cannot make up their mind)
  12. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    How very patronising! Actually, the funding for most of those free places has long since expired. My local university now charges £1500 per year, plus of course the supply costs required to release a teacher to attend. Just the course fees alone would eat up more than my whole school's Professional Development budget.

    That said, I would happen to agree that it can be an excellent course; it's simply a shame that it wasn't properly funded for as many teachers who were willing/able to participate. If the government were serious about raising standards, it would put its money where its mouth is (instead of into private chains' pockets!)
  13. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    Most of the primary schools local to me have a primary Maths specialist teacher( I was in the first cohort) but the costs now are prohibitive to all but the largest of schools. In my county the first cohort consisted of 65 students, although 4 dropped out along the way because of the time demands, and the subsequent cohorts have hovered around the 25-30 mark. The intention is that eventually ( funding permitting) all schools should have ( or have access to ) a primary maths specialist.
  14. my
    thoughts exactly - it's hard for schools to fund anywhere near as much
    training as they would like their staff to have, and the staff
    themselves would like
    btw - squidley has 13 posts on the tes board, all in this forum, all linking to his website
    carrie - i agree - with any specialisation - size matters - the practicalities, as well as the cost, are horrrendous in a one form entry jmi

  15. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    Haha, Marketing!
  16. I know funding was available as one of my partners Uni colleagues got funding for both years only a couple of months ago, not sure how she did it. Is it that the Uni classes appear small because the funding is restricted/capped making it look like only a few applied?
    Another problem is that small primary schools are beginning to poach these specialist staff once they are trained, leaving the parting school with the bill. This will make schools think twice about putting further staff on the course Surely to stop this the government needs to fund all of the training or offer some kind of financial reward to those that stay with the school that initially paid for the training or deliver the training area by area.
    Perhaps the LEA's should provide / manage the funding for these courses to help avoid the above problems, maybe tie them into working within an LEA for a set period after training or have transfer fees?
  17. hairdo

    hairdo Occasional commenter

    I would gladly and enthusiastically do this training if funding were available. Problem is, I am not currently teaching in a primary school nor have a position where school would contribute. However, if I was given the opportunity to train I would volunteer in a primary school and have a long term view of teaching at primary level as a specialist.
  18. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Sadly, that model is about 20 years out of date. It's every man, woman and school for himself these days by law (to say nothing of every child!)
  19. I disagree, i think the main purpose of primary ed should be to ignite the spark. And why would you want to teach by rote when you can teach properly?
  20. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    from my experience on supply in primary after 20 years maths in secondary would be not to underestimate the abilities or prior learning of the pupils.
    Most year 7 schemes of work now underestimate the breadth of maths that Primary teachers have to lead their pupils through. As a result some of the pupils have weaker basic skills than in previous years but they will generally have some very good Maths knowledge which just needs encouraging back to the surface.
    The pupils will also be very used to taking responsibility for many things so don't fall into the trap of many secondary teachers of deskilling them by removing the responsibilities!

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