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Mathematics Teacher Shortage

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by David Getling, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    My experience seems to indicate that good schools, and independent schools in particular (though I'm not saying the two are synonymous), have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever in recruiting maths teachers.

    I can teach any maths A-level module and IB Higher Level maths, and indeed enjoy doing so. But, on quite a few occasions when I have applied to schools whose adverts demand these skills I have received the reply that they were inundated with very well qualified candidates.

    So, if these schools are not telling brazen lies, then the only way I can square this with DM's comment about it being easy to get a maths teaching job is that these jobs are in schools that are much less desirable.
  2. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Oh, I should add one other thing that has often stopped me applying. The f*cking application form. If it's a short one I'll consider filling it in, but no way am I going to spend 3 or 4 hours filling in one that asks for details of every single job I have ever held, along with the full contact details of companies [that have long since been taken over, moved, or gone out of business].

    None of us are as individual and unique as we like to think. So, if this nonsense is putting me off applying, it is no doubt having the same effect on other potential applicants.

    So, either make your forms a lot simpler, or short-list on the basis of a CV and only insist on the form AFTER the job offer has been made (then you will still have it to show to the paranoid child protection jobsworths, if need be). However, I suspect that the kind if head teachers that are so insistent on their forms are more concerned with being seen to have gone through the appropriate recruitment procedures than whether or not their students actually get the best maths teacher.
  3. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    I'm surprised by your comments with regards to good schools and independent schools being able to get the best maths teachers. At my previous school (very high achieving) the last couple of appointments we really stuggled to get a field. We got some good teachers in the end, but the majoirty of applications were unsuitable. So not convinced by this.
    I also don't really get your comments regarding the application forms. If you want another job then you need to complete it and fill it in. They are generally all the same.

  4. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Established commenter

    There is still a shortage, in general. It's certainly pretty easy to get an interview for a job if you're suitably qualified, getting through the interview obviously takes more effort. In my previous school it was rare to get more than 2 applicants worth interviewing for posts we advertised.
  5. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    What do you mean by unsuitable? If you mean didn't know, or couldn't teach their maths, then fair enough. But I sometimes get the impression that applicants are rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with their teaching ability - which is often wrong. I'm sure many schools would object to my comments on this forum, but in it no way affects my ability to teach. And, I once got an instant rejection, from some pathetic person, because I accidentally spelt their name as Hill instead of Hall.

    One generally doesn't just apply for one job, so how many lots of 3 or 4 hours do you expect someone to waste? The forms are similar, but they are not the same, and every school wants their own form. Even with cutting and pasting, these forms can take 3 or 4 hours. Say someone wanted to apply for 10 jobs. They would have to spend the equivalent of an entire working week filling in the forms. Do you really think this is in any way a reasonable expectation? Would you be that surprised that a few prospective schools were passed over by someone exhausted by this mind numbing tedium?
  6. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    Last academic year, there were around 400 unfilled vacancies, so yes, the teacher shortage is still very real. However as previously stated, the regional variation is stark. There has been an increase in the number of unqualified teachers being recruited, but I don't know many cases of Cover Supervisors applying for such jobs.
  7. arsinh

    arsinh New commenter

    After reading this remark, I searched your name to see what contentious things you might have been saying.
    Well blow me down, you have a terrible attitude David.
  8. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    In your (and maybe some others) opinion. I'm sure there are others that share my sentiment. BUT what should matter to any decent headteacher, who cares about his students, is how good I am at teaching maths. That's all that matters to students and their parents.
  9. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Of course you are missing the point. Nowhere did I say or imply this.

    Irrelevant, if (in your own words) I can get the results.

    However this thread isn't meant to be about whether I can get a job. I was simply pointing out that difficulties in recruitment might sometimes be due to onerous application forms, or heads turning up their noses at perfectly good teachers who they considered to be unsuitable for invalid reasons: such as perceived cockiness or arrogance (to use your words again).
  10. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    So ii don't understand what you want to happen then. How do I know who is better at teaching out of the 80. There has to be a process. If you don't fill in the application form then to be honest why should we bother going through your application.

    It's not irrelevant about how you come across. It is not just about getting the results. There is a lot more to it. Will you get on with the rest of the department? Will you get on with SMT? Unfortunately the way you do come across is arrogant and as I said if you come across like this in letter or interview then some people may not like you because of this. You have to be able to fit in with the team. You also have to be able to get on with students? How do you know your results are better than other candidates that have applied? Have you seen your references?
  11. I think you are underestimating the value to schools of staff who will be easy-going and get on with the rest of the faculty, David. That is a factor that counts for a lot, whether you like it or not. Also teaching is about personality as much as knowledge. You can be the cleverest person in the world but not the sort of person who can inspire young people to learn, and if something in your attitude indicates that's the case they won't want you.
    Perceived cockiness or arrogance is not an invalid reason, in my opinion! If you are perceived to be cocky and arrogant when you're hoping someone's going to give you a job, imagine how insufferably cocky and arrogant you could be from the safety of being in the job, and also when dealing with the students. It is my belief and experience that a teacher who struggles to form solid relationships with the students and the rest of the staff can cost a school fortunes in SMT time taken up dealing with accusations of bullying, time off sick with stress, dealing with parental complaints, escalating student behaviour issues that kick off because of "cocky and arrogant" handling by the teacher, etc.
    I think the standard application form (and I filled one in a few months ago after having done 2 in the previous months - it took me about 20 mins, just pasting in from the other one) helps them to make a straight comparison between applicants, which a CV wouldn't do because CVs aren't standard. You can hide things in a CV without lying, not possible in an application form.
    If you've done that many (ten in a week! and it sounds like a regular thing for you!?) there must be something in some of your wording in your forms / CV / covering letter that is putting people off, if you're not getting to the interview stage. If you are getting to the interview stage then you should be thinking about how you're coming across in person.
    Probably if you let some of your "cretins / ***" (can't quite remember which of those terms you've made free use of, sorry) language slip in it would put employers off. Just sayin'...
  12. Crossed post with pencho.
    And the missing word was mo ro ns
  13. "And, I once got an instant rejection, from some pathetic person, because I accidentally spelt their name as Hill instead of Hall."

    But it shows a lack of care and manners. As a Head of Faculty I'd like to work with somebody who is both careful in their work and good mannered.
  14. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Yawn. As I said this thread is not meant to be about me. I was merely using some of my experiences to highlight some of the recruitment practices that might lead to a perceived lack of maths teachers, when in many instances this might not be the case.

    Brookes, even with the best care and manners in the world we all make mistakes. I do always re-read anything I submit in an application, and vowel changes are very easy to miss. No doubt you also would like to work with someone who has a generous and forgiving nature.

    A couple of you have made the unwarranted assumption that I don't get on with students. Actually nothing could be further from the truth: I'm usually one of the most popular teachers in a school both for how I deliver my subject and (believe it or not) my easy-going nature - which referees would confirm. Of course now, for simply stating the facts, I'll once again be accused of arrogance and boasting.

    But again, this is NOT about me. I'm simply pointing out that if recruiters adopted a more mature and fairer attitude then the shortage of maths teachers might turn out to be far less severe than imagined. Of course, most of you HODs and heads don't want to hear any of this. It takes courage to admit one's mistakes and concede that one has been going about things the wrong way. What requires a lot less courage, and carries a lot less conviction, is to express one's views while hiding behind a pseudonym.
  15. DM

    DM New commenter

    We don't have any choice in the matter David. Schools have to use an application form because of the Safer Recruitment Procedures. We are not permitted to accept CVs.
  16. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Thanks for that DM, but are you absolutely sure that this is a legal requirement rather than just a very strong recommendation. I really would like to know. If it is indeed a legal requirement then I apologize unreservedly (to HODs and Heads - but not to the government bureaucrats) for all my posts on this issue.
  17. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I actually just had a phonecall from a good school which I used to work for asking if I wanted (or knew anyone who wanted) a job as they are desperate. (Thryd have to be to want me back!!) This is one of the beeter schools in the area. I also know of a top local grammar school recruiting inexperience and even trainee teachers to fill posts including quite senior ones - although this may be as much a cost saving exercises as a recruitment problem i cant be sure.
  18. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    This is precisely the kind of situation that's prompted several postings about application forms, though if DM is right they (together with the onerous requirement to detail every employment - plus contact details) have been forced on schools: or at the very least, the child protection jobsworths have lied to schools to get them adopted.

    Looking back at my collection of applications I can count about 80. Fortunately a fair number were abroad, but imagine I had to spend about 3 hours filling in the form for each of these, and that's on top of the time to customise an application letter. If the school that called you has advertised in TES then I've almost certainly seen the advert. But in all likelihood I thought "do I want to spend yet another 3 or 4 hours on an application? Also, because I'm in Berlin, it's unlikely the school will pay travel expenses, even though they might be no more than some candidate in a remote part of the UK.

    As I'm probably not unique, this school may well have been passed over by several maths teachers who might be suited to the position. So Mike, how desperate is this school (and others like it)? One of the hallmarks of a mature and reasonable person is that they are prepared to make compromises to achieve the goals that are important to them (like making sure their students have suitable qualified teachers). Has this school considered accepting CVs in the first instance (with the form to be filled in on job offer). Also, what's its attitude to overseas candidates? Could it not do initial interviews via Skype video? Finally, has it considered PMing some of the posters on this and the jobs forum, who have indicated they are looking for a maths position.

    These are just a few suggestions. I'm not singling out the school that contacted you, or necessarily suggesting that I would be the answer to their prayers. But if some genuinely good schools are finding it hard to recruit then its only sensible to consider compromising (by which I don't mean on teaching skills) and maybe being a bit more inventive with their recruitment methods.

    Just a few thoughts.
  19. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    By the way. My compromise is being prepared to live again in the UK - which is a big one :).
  20. If it's so onerous for you to work in the UK, why bother make such a big compromise? Why not stay where you are?

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