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Maths PGCE with non-maths related degree - useless?!?!

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by diplomat123, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. Hello people,

    I am currrently writing my personal statement as part of the application
    for the Maths PGCE course, however I have just received some very
    troubling news.

    I have literally just returned from visiting my former maths A-Level teacher at
    the school/6th form where I had studied. I had gone to meet him (he is
    now one of the deputy headteachers) to try and arrange some voluntary
    work as a teaching assistant in the maths department.

    I told him that I graduated this year with a degree in History (2.ii
    class) but now have my heart set on becoming a maths teacher. I
    explained that I will be applying to the University of East London as my
    first choice and would like to do the Maths Enhancement Course before I
    do the PGCE.

    The problem is that he and one of the other deputy headteachers bluntly
    told me that if I were to apply at that school for a maths teaching job
    once I had completed the PGCE, they would not consider me at all because
    of me not having a maths related degree. Furthermore, they said that
    with the new Teach First scheme, the competition for maths teachers has
    become very fierce and therefore I should think again about applying for
    the Maths PGCE.

    I am really confused now as to what to do and would like to hear your take on my situation.

    Thank you

  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    I have replied at length to this on your private message via another website.
  3. DM

    DM New commenter

    That should say "by private message".
  4. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Once you have qualified I doubt whether this would be an issue for many schools. There is still a shortage of Maths teachers in a number of parts of the country.
    If you have done the Maths Enhancement course than your Maths will be much more up to date than mine was when I did my PGCE 10 years after I had finished my degree.
    You will need to be able to answer the question about why you want to teach Maths and why you didn't do a Maths related degree. Do you have a decent grade in Maths at A level?
  5. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Hi diplomat123, I'm not trying to be nasty, but I think your blunt deputy head is right. If you take a look at most job adverts they require a related degree -which means a physical science or engineering - and maybe biology at a push. There may be a shortage of maths teachers, but as far as I can tell (and I'll be delighted to be told I'm wrong) it's only in the kinds of schools you probably wouldn't want t teach in.
  6. Thank you very much for your replies DM and bombaysapphire.
    I understand that I will have to explain my reasons for this route that I wish to take.
    My A-Level grade was B and GCSE grade was A.
  7. From another angle I have been lucky enough to pursue a career (fairly successful to date) as a Maths teacher without holding a Maths Degree.
    When I left my council estate comprehensive school, despite being obviously bright (10 O Levels, most Grade A) I did not even go to a Sixth Form College, let alone a University. I had zero careers advice and was from a family (and community) where further and higher education was unheard of.
    I managed to get a job as a Commercial Apprentice and did a p/t BTech in Business and Finance. I then focussed on accountancy and became a Chartered Management Accountant at the age of 22. I then had 15 successful years in PLC's etc (gaining board experience), but throughout always had this urge to go in to teaching.
    At the age of 37 I decided to bite the bullet and pursue this career and was lucky enough to stumble on the Mathematics Enhancement Course. I then undertook a Maths GTP course and the rest is history.
    As I acknowledged some of my shortcomings I undertook a p/t Masters in Mathematics Education which I completed last summer (I'm now looking for further training/career development and may even consider doing an A level in maths!!!!!).
  8. DM

    DM New commenter

    Here we go then, you are wrong.
  9. strawbs

    strawbs Occasional commenter

    Several of my colleagues/ex have non Maths degrees - however most ARE related - eg Science subjects etc. However, the Maths enhancement course should do what it says on the tin!
    What else are planning to do this year? How long does the enhancement take? Could you do some OU Maths modules as well for instance?
  10. strawbs

    strawbs Occasional commenter

    I think you are wrong as well.
    Maybe a few leafy private/grammar etc can choose to be fussy and demand triple firsts from Oxbridge, but most schools will take anyone they can get who is keen, eager to improve their knowledge etc etc
  11. Thank you for your reply David Getling. I am going to take on board what you have said and do some further research so I can make my decision as soon as possible.
    With regards to the possibility that I may only be able to gain employment in schools that rank quite poorly - I would certainly not be disheartened by this.
    I have lived in East London since I was born (apart from the 3 years I spent studying at the University of Birmingham) and attended a secondary school that wasn't exactly the best in the borough. Also, I just finished getting some classroom experience in the maths department of a school in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham which also fairs poorly when compared to other schools in the borough.
    To be honest, it was this two week long experience that affirmed my desire to become a maths teacher!
  12. JD113

    JD113 New commenter

    We appointed an NQT with a history degree last year, and one with another unrelated degree the previous year. They had both completed the Maths Enhancement Course. They are both doing very well, with excellent lessons observations. We rarely get trainees with maths degrees, most come through MEC or SKE courses. We are 11-16 though, it may be different in 11-18.
  13. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    As a Maths HoD with a completely unrelated degree, (but having made sure I packed in lots of relevant retraining & Inset) I can safely say that I've never even been questioned about my maths background at interview, and have had no problems getting jobs in maths, pastoral and senior management at a range of excellent state schools in market towns. Latterly, I have taken a 'backward' step (actually, a blessed release) away from SLT and am once again thoroughly enjoying being a Maths HoD.
    I think there are probably a few more maths teachers around these days chasing jobs than a year or so ago, but, lets face it, we're working from a pretty low base. A year or so ago, our rural county had 15 unfilled maths vacancies in August. The other school in our town had a maths dept which consisted of 1.5 qualified maths teachers, 1 completely unqualified teacher and a succession of hopeless supply teachers for the other 5 posts. There's a way to go before those halcyon days when we used to be able to draw up a short list... I'm not sure I ever heard of a school drawing up a long list for a maths job.
    I say: if you're sure you want it, go for it.
  14. Thank you MathsMA and strawbs for your replies.
    In response to your questions strawbs, I am trying to get some more classroom experience as a voluntary teaching assistant in the maths department of one of the schools in my borough. The Maths Enhancement Course would begin in January and finish in June.
  15. Thank you JD113 and googolplex.
  16. Just to add to all this, I am another non-maths graduate teaching maths - my undergraduate degree is in philosophy (which is more maths-related than some people think). I have never found my lack of a maths degree to be an issue and I can get 100% on any mymaths task!!
  17. I can only be anecdotal (along with many of the other posts in this thread):
    I know lots of very good teachers of mathematics who don't have a maths degree. They have excellent subject knowledge, a real passion for the subject and are extremely successful.
    There are many vacancies in maths departments in many schools. Lots of these schools don't bother advertising all of the vacancies because they don't get high enough calibre applicants. If you have a good PGCE year and are reasonably flexible about where you work then if I were you I would not be particuarly concerned about the lack of maths degree. After all, where everyone else will be spending 9 months on their PGCE, you will have done lots of observation in schools and then a 6 month MEC on top of that, so you are clearly keen to do this!
    Every teacher has a slightly different skill-set. A department that includes one or two people with a degree in subjects other than maths (*) may well be stronger than one where everyone has the same sort of background.
    [ (*) - I like that expression. I'm going to ask for our A-level application form to have two columns in future: "Mathematics", which will include applied, further, etc, and "Subjects Other Than Mathematics" which will be all the rest. If the physicists play nice we might let them join the good side of the form ...]
  18. Anyone want to hazard a guess at the % of secondary maths lessons in the UK which are being delivered that require someone with degree level knolwedge?
    I know many very good teachers with maths degrees, many very goods ones without. I know equally as many bad ones with and without the qualification
  19. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    This conundrum has been argued for and against many a time, with no clear answer. It is a case of "some are, some aren't".
    The important thing, in my opinion, is that if a non-mathematician is up against a mathematician then he or she will lose out in being hired. However, how often does that happen realistically?
  20. I think once they both get through the initial door of getting an interview IF the event arises its very sitaution specific.
    A second class maths degree from 20-30 years back and limited pedagogy Vs dynmaic up and coming non specialist then its a hard call in some cases yet on paper......
    Anyway, this a whole new debate! (one I am interested in though)

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