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Other subjects specialist teaching Maths

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by magdalewis, May 20, 2019.

  1. magdalewis

    magdalewis New commenter

    Hello, I noticed more and more teachers of other subjects taking maths lessons and I feel that it's an insult to the subject ...looks like everyone is a maths specialist without additional subject knowledge courses at least. I don't think I could be a Biology teacher overnight.
  2. pi r squared

    pi r squared New commenter

    This is more out of necessity due to a shortage of teachers or cuts in funding, surely, rather than 'them' taking 'our' jobs. I cannot imagine any school willingly putting a non-specialist in a Maths classroom over a specialist unless they were forced to.

    There's also the fact that everyone qualifying in the last twenty years or so has also been forced to demonstrate a certain level of Maths and English, so in theory everyone has enough basic understanding to be able to teach KS3 at least in those subjects - whereas I've had to prove my level of Biology to no-one since 1996.
  3. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I wouldn't say that having a GCSE grade C indicates a basic understanding of maths or indeed anything else.
    MarshJ and nervousned like this.
  4. pi r squared

    pi r squared New commenter

    I was more talking about the basic skills tests that teachers have to do for QTS - whatever we may think of them it does at least set a certain standard of numeracy and literacy.

    I know that we are generally very precious about specialist teaching in secondary (and rightly so) but is it that much of a leap from a Y6 teacher being expected to teach maths and English - one or both of which not being their specialism - to a secondary teacher doing the same with Y7? Would we say it's an insult for a Primary teacher with a history degree to be teaching maths to Y6s?

    If I brought over a non-specialist to teach KS3 maths in place of a specialist, then it would be an insult to the specialist, sure - but even then I don't see it as an insult to the subject at large.
  5. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    There are two main reasons it happens: (i) inability to recruit subject specialists, and (ii) other departments being slightly overstaffed and maths slightly understaffed (rather than make redundancies when staffing needs fluctuate, it's often easier to accept a bit of moving between subjects).

    I've taught with a number of non-specialists over the years, some of whom have enjoyed it, put considerable effort into making sure they knew what they were doing, and even made a permanent transition into the department. I don't think it should be dumped on just anyone, though, as not everyone has sufficient knowledge.
  6. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    It is becoming common for schools to have no maths specialists teaching maths.
  7. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    I did a bit of research for my MEd years ago in Africa, about attitudes and confidence in maths teaching. (I was teaching maths to primary trainee teachers). At the time maths teachers were in desperate short supply not much change there) but one of the conclusions I drew from my students' experiences was that no teacher was far better than a bad one.

    Where there was no teacher, the students galvanised themselves into study groups and effectively taught themselves using any text book they could find. They did better in their exams than those who had a bad teacher ( bad as described by them).

    Passing maths meant a huge difference in future prospects.

    The stakes were just not as high in any other subject except English for which there was no shortage of teachers.

    So I wonder what is the long term impact of non specialist teachers teaching maths?
  8. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    Interesting you found that no teacher was better than a bad teacher. I can't imagine the kids here organising themselves into study groups and teaching themselves, so I wonder if the same would apply in the UK.

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