1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Maths PGCE without a Maths degree

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by fly_solo, May 29, 2012.

  1. Hi all,
    I'm due to start a PGCE in Secondary Maths this September. I graduated with a First in Philosophy in 2010, had a year in a sales job and am currently on a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course at the uni where I'll be doing my PGCE. I'm getting a bit nervous about September, and am preparing myself for a very pressured year, but am really looking forward to a rewarding career, and am so glad I spent the time after graduating really thinking about what I wanted to do, because I know I've made a good choice for me.
    However, one thing I am concerned about is how I will be viewed with not having a Maths degree. I have A grade A-Levels in Maths, Physics and Philosophy, and an A grade AS-Level in Further Maths, but am well aware that I will need to be a good few steps ahead of my students. I'm doing some degree level Maths in the Subject Enhancement Course, but know that this won't be sufficient as my career goes on. I hope to eventually teach A-Level as well as GCSE, and, at the moment, I have a goal of becoming head of department in a reasonable amount of time (I haven't thought much beyond this). I was wondering if you could suggest a good route to go down as far as knowledge enhancement goes - what courses, night classes etc are out there that would put me on a par with a Maths graduate?
    I'd also be interested to hear any opinions you have on Maths teachers who don't have a Maths degree. It was my intersest in Maths and Physics that led to my degree in Philosophy (e.g. I was so interested in the complexities of the world, how things just seem to work, and how all this relates to arguments for and against the existence of God). During my degree, I really enjoyed things like Political Philosophy, and it was actually a module in this that really got me thinking about teaching - we were studying the huge discrepencies in education different individuals experience. I figured it was a solid grounding in core subjects (English, Maths, Science) that allowed me to go and study a degree I absolutely loved (I didn't study Philosophy until A-Level), and I thought what a good thing it would be if I could contribute to other individuals getting a good grounding in a core subject so that they could go on to have more choice and opportunity. So it's not solely for my love of Maths that I'm here; other factors are involved. I'd like to hope that shows me as someone who is really concerned about young people and their futures and their well-rounded education, rather than someone who only cares about Maths.
    I would also love to be in a school where I can help out with an orchestra/music group, and am the type of person who likes to get involved with things - sports, school trips, summer schools. It was the extra-curricular activities that really made my school experience, and I'd like other students to get that too. Will these be good selling points, or do I have no chance in an interview against a Maths graduate?
    So I guess two questions really:
    1. Am I at a real disadvantage without a Maths degree?
    2. What courses etc can you suggest to help with my knowledge enhancement during my career?
    Sorry for the lengthy email; I guess I'm just looking for a bit of reassurance.
    Thank you in advance for replies to one or both of my questions.
     
  2. Hi all,
    I'm due to start a PGCE in Secondary Maths this September. I graduated with a First in Philosophy in 2010, had a year in a sales job and am currently on a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course at the uni where I'll be doing my PGCE. I'm getting a bit nervous about September, and am preparing myself for a very pressured year, but am really looking forward to a rewarding career, and am so glad I spent the time after graduating really thinking about what I wanted to do, because I know I've made a good choice for me.
    However, one thing I am concerned about is how I will be viewed with not having a Maths degree. I have A grade A-Levels in Maths, Physics and Philosophy, and an A grade AS-Level in Further Maths, but am well aware that I will need to be a good few steps ahead of my students. I'm doing some degree level Maths in the Subject Enhancement Course, but know that this won't be sufficient as my career goes on. I hope to eventually teach A-Level as well as GCSE, and, at the moment, I have a goal of becoming head of department in a reasonable amount of time (I haven't thought much beyond this). I was wondering if you could suggest a good route to go down as far as knowledge enhancement goes - what courses, night classes etc are out there that would put me on a par with a Maths graduate?
    I'd also be interested to hear any opinions you have on Maths teachers who don't have a Maths degree. It was my intersest in Maths and Physics that led to my degree in Philosophy (e.g. I was so interested in the complexities of the world, how things just seem to work, and how all this relates to arguments for and against the existence of God). During my degree, I really enjoyed things like Political Philosophy, and it was actually a module in this that really got me thinking about teaching - we were studying the huge discrepencies in education different individuals experience. I figured it was a solid grounding in core subjects (English, Maths, Science) that allowed me to go and study a degree I absolutely loved (I didn't study Philosophy until A-Level), and I thought what a good thing it would be if I could contribute to other individuals getting a good grounding in a core subject so that they could go on to have more choice and opportunity. So it's not solely for my love of Maths that I'm here; other factors are involved. I'd like to hope that shows me as someone who is really concerned about young people and their futures and their well-rounded education, rather than someone who only cares about Maths.
    I would also love to be in a school where I can help out with an orchestra/music group, and am the type of person who likes to get involved with things - sports, school trips, summer schools. It was the extra-curricular activities that really made my school experience, and I'd like other students to get that too. Will these be good selling points, or do I have no chance in an interview against a Maths graduate?
    So I guess two questions really:
    1. Am I at a real disadvantage without a Maths degree?
    2. What courses etc can you suggest to help with my knowledge enhancement during my career?
    Sorry for the lengthy email; I guess I'm just looking for a bit of reassurance.
    Thank you in advance for replies to one or both of my questions.
     
  3. I'll let the experienced teachers answer this one (although I can imagine you'll be fine with your SKE), but to help with your second question, I can highly recommend www.khanacademy.org to brush up on your knowledge, particularly if you wish to Further Maths content.
     
  4. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    Many schools would look at an application from you with interest. To consolidate your A level knowledge I advise you to acquire a small library of good A level books. Once you start teaching, probably to KS4 initially, use some time to study the A level texts. After having proved yourself A level teaching would then probably be offered. I have a good honours Physics degree from a Russell group university but I did do a pass degree course in Mathematics at the same time, it was part of the requirements then. It certainly did not hold me back, after 5 years I was HOD in a very good grammar school, it was in the late sixties.
     
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Yes and no. Your A Levels are good, so that will definitely help, but it will very much depend upon where you wish to apply. The more academic the school, the more they will look into what subject your initial degree was in.
    If you are looking at the independent sector, I think you would find it difficult to obtain a teaching position in Mathematics without a degree in Maths or a very closely related subject.
    If you are looking to move abroad eventually, you will find that some countries will not be able to get an employment visa for you if your initial degree is not in the subject that you are teaching.
    A part time degree, but you really need to ask yourself if it is worth it or not.
    For a management position, it is not subject knowledge that is the most important thing, but the ability to lead and to manage a department. A department may be more amenable to you if you have a background in mathematics, but having a degree in mathematics is certainly no indicator of an ability to lead.
     
    Kateray1 likes this.
  6. The problem with Khan Academy (in my opinion) is that it reinforces poor teaching methods. It might work well for helping you brush up on your knowledge, but I don't think it's useful for planning how to teach something.
     
  7. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    I have had 2 HoDs who had Maths PGCEs (both in state comprehensives) but with degrees not in Maths. Not a problem for them at all. Both got HoD after about 7 or 8 years of teaching I believe. Can't remember what their degrees were in.
     
  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    one of the best teachers that i learnt from as a student was philosophy based. Very little of the maths you teach will actually be anywhere past about GCSE C grade.
    Much harder to get into A level as so many school VIth forms have been closed down to save cash. And you have to hit the ground running due to modular exams.
    take any chance you can get to visit or support relevent courses and teaching
    particularly for HOD why do you need a maths degree to be a good manager? My first HOD never tought top sets as she was so busy being a senior teacher!
     
  9. I've been a HOD for 2 years now, my degree is in Engineering (yes I know it's not THAT different).
    As long as you can demonstrate confidence in subject matter and your teaching and learning is up to scratch then it wouldn't matter to me if your degree was in Sanskrit.
     
    evivyover likes this.
  10. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    I like Karvol's response - reads the situation correctly. A lack of maths degree is no barrier, but some schools, especially private schools, will turn up their noses.
    My degree is in the arts arena (not prepared to divulge in order to maintain anonymity) and so a very long way from maths. My PGCE is in my original subject but I retrained fairly early in my career, and was lucky that my school supported me. Mind you, I really did (and still do) pack in lots of inset, and always make sure I keep up to date.
    I have had no problems finding jobs as HoD, and alsobranched into senior management at one point but am back where I am happiest - Head of Maths in large 11-18 comp. I teach up to Maths A-level, and have worked through all the Further Maths stuff so that I can be of use to students when they are stuck - but I wouldn't want to teach it yet, unless I had to - I have made sure that we have a good base of experience in this area in the department.
    My advice:
    • Do lots of inset. Make sure your CV reflects a genuine enthusiasm for all things mathematical.
    • Read alot of books on maths teaching. Know your subject!
    • do as much A-level work as possible, as soon you can and get teaching it as soon as you can.
    • once appointed make sure you get involved in initiatives and show that you are at the cutting edge of the department's development.
    • Work to your strengths, and work on your weaknesses. Never admit you are the finished article, whatever your degree is.
     
  11. Wow, thank you all so much for your responses. You've given me a lot to think about but you've definitely reassured me. As long as I keep working hard and pushing myself then I'm sure I'll find a school where I feel at home and can make a big contribution to. Roll on September!
     
    Kateray1 likes this.
  12. Hi,

    does anyone here know anyone who got onto a MEC without A Level maths?
    Or anyone that got onto the course with a grade D or E for A level maths?
     
    evivyover likes this.
  13. DM

    DM New commenter

    Yes. I know someone who was accepted with no mathematics beyond GCSE Grade B and a degree in Fine Art.
     
  14. slstrong123

    slstrong123 New commenter

    Hi there - I have a similar background to you - maths A level, 1st class hons degree but in an unrelated subject and did a 6 month full maths subject knowledge enhancement. My experience is only in the state sector and that is that you don't need a maths degree - your subject knowledge course was probably v intensive and it is how you then teach maths to your students which is crucial.
    Have nearly finished NQT teaching KS3 and KS4 and will be starting to teach some A level (Y12s) next year, but my school appreciates that I am less confident so have booked me onto the MEI course Teaching Advanced Mathematics. There is also another course run by the MEI which is for Further Mathematics. I have found the Further Mathematics Support Network very helpful in giving me advice on training to teach A level and CPD. You might want to check them out. Hope that helps.
     
  15. mevdog1971

    mevdog1971 New commenter

    These statements make no sense. They would only be true if the school has no students with ability above Grade C - unlikely; or if they only let you teach KS3 - in which case, don't join that school. I have not heard of sixth forms recently being closed - A level maths is growing in popularity each year.
    I do agree with earlier post that it is difficult to get into independent sector without a highly relevant degree (maths, physical science, engineering). But that is obvious, no?
     
    evivyover likes this.
  16. mevdog1971

    mevdog1971 New commenter

    The idea of that person being a maths teacher is a little ridiculous. Grade B GCSE is a joke.
     
  17. it seems to be very long time since. I was very good at math but I choose to do business degree instead. It was long time ago when I had no clue what I want to be... I jumped into master degree in Finance & Management.
    over 10 years gone by, my love for math and being a teacher is still burning in me. I love to do something for the next generation.
    I had observed few schools... from my experience, what a great teacher needs not only subject knowledge also personal skills. The one who can engage pupils, the one who know where to pause the lesson few seconds and listen to all pupils.... to see how are they getting it.
    If you really love teaching maths, I believe you will find the ways and improve yourself. Became HOD.... or what soever shouldn't be the first thing you should have thought. Otherwise, you might not be the right candidate who would really shape the future.
     
  18. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I have a nephew who has been suffering for years with a Cheap First recruit. She had an English degree, but apparently got a good maths A-level and so was let loose in this subject. Several years on from starting she is still bloody useless! Even worse, she has now been given further maths classes.
    Just because someone is enthusiastic about doing something doesn't mean they should be allowed to do it.
     
  19. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    That's certainly one pedagogy - getting instep with both the students and the maths might be another.

    edit - for comment on the 2012 OP: solo 6 years on - I wonder what the story is now
     
  20. evivyover

    evivyover New commenter

    I did the MEC...my degree is in Social Psychology and no A Level maths...
     

Share This Page