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What makes a good maths teacher and is there a shortage?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by something_more_original, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. Is there a shortage of Maths teachers? Check out the current vacancies on TES and Eteach. I don't think there is a shortage of teachers.

    Far from the widely publicised drought of qualified maths teachers, there are more than enough to fill the vast majority of posts. Despite training grants continuing to be available, the likely effect of upcoming cuts to the education budget may mean that existing teachers will be asked to cover more than one subject leading to a situation where the majority of KS3 Maths is covered by science and IT specialists, further reducing the Maths jobs available.

    In 5 years there is meant to be a "retirement bubble" whereby vast amounts of experienced teachers leave the profession meaning a real shortage will occur. That bubble has not yet burst. It is acctually the case, I feel, that additional teachers are being trained now in anticipation of a future shortage meaning that existing qualified teachers outnumber the current vaccancies. Having recently completed my Maths PGCE I feel that I was misled when beginning the course with tales of dire shortages meaning that jobs would definitely be available at the end of the course. As a graduate with good A levels and a good report from teaching practice I would have expected it to be easier to get work that it is proving to be. Again I feel that I was misled and that any shortage of teachers that may have existed was massively overhyped. If you are thinking about a Maths PGCE make sure you start applying for jobs in March of your PGCE year otherwise you're screwed.

    Rant over, thanks for reading.
  2. When you are doing a PGCE course as a mature student - you have to do a full time course (the PGCE paperwork and support reflections), a full time job (the teaching placement) and the basic job of running the family too. It is very time consuming - so think about how you can arrange things so that your life works while you are studying...
    Very best of luck. :)

  3. FEG


    Hi there potential PGCE'er
    Are you asking about secondary or primary maths??? because having just finished a primary PGCE as a mature student..there is certainly a need for good subject coordinators in maths in primary....?!
  4. DM

    DM New commenter

    Anyone else who doesn't understand the resignation dates and the cost of advertising? I thought I might wait until a few more of you turn up before I waste my breath explaining how recruitment in education works for the 29th time.
  5. briceanus

    briceanus New commenter

    As DM has said, at least twice now!, it depends upon your flexibility. I work in a nice area, but expensive to live, and have had precious little in terms of applicants for a job. Have advertised 4 times since January, most responses are from African leek pickers or Australian tour guides or deportees desperate for any UK job. Have only seen 3 candidates even worth looking at. I had to offer the position to an NQT who will need masses of support (the interview lesson was terrible, but at least they were keen). We are a high attaining school with few behaviour problems, and still cannot find decent applicants, is there a shortage, yes, right here.
    Also, there is 2nd in dept and 2 other posts going in 1 local school, and 2 other posts in other local school, all unfilled at 31st May. Adverst in TES or other simply aren't value for money now, so aren't posted.
  6. DM

    DM New commenter

    I can beat that with my latest high quality applicant bric but I think I better pm you with the details!
  7. Having just finished my secondary maths PGCE in London, I can tell you that all of my maths PGCE collegues who wanted to get a job did. It took a few applications for most people to get a job, but eventually the right position came up for everyone. There were roughly 30 people on the course. The PGCE was the hardest year i have gone through so far and this sentiment was shared by everyone including people coming out of business/industry.
    Good luck!
  8. coyote

    coyote New commenter

    A fascinating thread. I just want to pick up on one aspect -is there a shortaage of maths teachers? Despite the good sense posted by a few (eg DM) some posters, who imply by their posting that they are actually (or soon will be) qualified maths teachers are extrapolating from their own personal experience when concluding that there is no shortage. This is very bad statistical practice, and any self-respecting maths teacher should be thoroughly ashamed of falling into this trap. It's not about personal experiences and anecdotal evidence, it's about regional and national data. How many vacancies are there? Where are the vacancies? How many new maths teachers are being trained every year? What is the age range of current teachers? How many will have to retire in the next couple of years? I have no interest in doing the research for this because I don't need to. But when I was training I knew full well what the situation was because it was important to me. I think it's perfectly reasonable for the OP to use this forum as one way of getting a feel for the job market, and some pearls of wisdom do shine through. But some of the bad maths is truly embarrassing.
    For what it's worth, here's my (uninformed) view:
    Nationally, maths is still a shortage subject. If you're not fussy, and can vaguely teach, you'll get a job somewhere. Once you start being choosy, everything becomes less clear cut.
    And here's my cynical view:
    Those that have serious difficulty finding a job are frequently either being too choosy, verging on the incompetent (and sometimes blissfully ignorant of the fact) or a combination of both.
    My advice to the OP: pick the wheat from the chaff on this thread, and then go and find some real data on vacancies in the area you would want to teach. Oh, and you're asking the right questions. I mentor PGCE student, and I like your attitude, go for it!
  9. DM

    DM New commenter

    Some figures then ...
    If every mathematics graduate in the country could be persuaded to trained to teach secondary mathematics, it still would not be sufficient to replace the mathematics teachers leaving the profession.
    <u>Unfilled secondary mathematics training places (all routes):

    </u>2004/05 14%
    2005/06 18%
    2006/07 15%
    2007/08 16%
    2008/09 25%
    (Source: Hansard March 2009)
    In the most recently published figures, 75.2% of secondary mathematics PGCE students successfully completed their courses. 80.2% of these went on to teach in state schools and 4.5% in independent schools. The rest dropped out of the system.

    Of 1994 qualifiers in secondary mathematics, 59% were teaching in the state sector after one year, 54% after two years, 49% after five years and 40% after ten years.
    We have an ageing workforce - I haven't looked this figure up but, off the top of my head, I recall that something like 35% of mathematics teachers intend to retire within 5 years.
  10. DM

    DM New commenter

    That should say "If every NEW mathematics graduate ..."
  11. Boiled down, just two essential traits...
    1. Passion for your students.
    2. Passion for your subject.
    Everything else will follow from these two traits and a recognition that teaching is NOT a 9-5 job. Good luck!
  12. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    I am a bit concerned that prospective maths teachers have such a poor grasp of Seasonal Variation. It would be interesting to see a moving average of maths teacher vacancies.
  13. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    2. A pleasant cellmate.
  14. DM

    DM New commenter

    I popped into the National Lifeguard Training Centre today to ask whether they would like to engage my services as Lifeguard for the private pool in their Social Club. I explained that I have a 25 metre swimming certificate and can open my eyes underwater. They told me they do not need anyone at the moment so I have concluded there is no demand for Lifeguards anywhere as no-one can afford to swim due to the worldwide recession.
  15. DM

    DM New commenter

    What you get when "passion" is "boiled down":
  16. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Of course the other bit of under-reporting of vacancies is where schools have more than one vacancy: if you have a resignation just after you've advertised another post, you'll either appoint two of those applications (or start desperation measures if the first advert was unsuccessful). The school where they have perpetual recruitment problems and have been surviving for the last three years on agency staff, overseas-qualified and hours borrowed from the geography department probably only advertises once each year.
    I would be interested to know whether the recession is having an effect on supply of maths teachers. I qualified in 1992, which was also a recession time, and there were only five NQT-suitable posts advertised that year in my area, which over the last few years has been desperately short of applicants. There are a lot of qualified teachers not currently teaching, and redundancy might send them back towards schools.
  17. Just wondering but using my son's school as an example, if they have exisitng teachers of other subjects e.g. business studies, P.E. etc.who are 'willing' to teach maths classes, will they bother to advertise and recruit qualified maths teachers? I know this is a bit naive of me but I always hoped that when my boys started secondary school they would be taught by a teacher who was a specialist in that subject.
  18. If so, would the school continue to place an advert for a teacher, since each time there's a cost, or should NQT's track adverts prior to completing their NQT and then send out to any of those schools to ascertain whether they are using a temp or supply teacher whilst waiting for the right permanent to turn up?
    Adverts are expensive, so I'd suppose most schools would want to advertise at times of the year where they can attract most quality candidates. Teachers' resigning dates are a strange thing.
  19. I couldn't really add much to bombaysaphire's excellent response except to say that you might want to check out 'The Mr E of Mathematics', which is available from www.mathsathome.org and has a five star review by the TES at https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6006372 . It is written for mathematics educators and parents and looks deeply at 'why the things we teach must true'. It is 570 pages long and very visual and may give you an edge.

    Also, with regards to commitment to standards of behaviour: be determined but also be prepared not to take things too personally; half of what is said isn't meant, half of what is meant is forgotten, and time is a great healer anyway. Furthermore, if you can see through the gaucheness, children can actually be quite instructive!
  20. Very Droll. Perhaps a better analogy would be that one year ago, in response to a national call for lifeguards, you undertook a year of study involving extensive practical experience under the supervision of a senior lifeguard. This put you in a position whereby you could confidently and independently patrol a beach/pool and be responsible for a large number of swimmers at any one time. At the end of your course you subscibe to a national lifeguard paper and continually scroll for vacancies on www.lifeguardvacancies.com only to find that the vacancies that did exist were filled while you were practising saving lives and that the swimming pools that might have vaccancies aren't desperate enough to recruit to justify them paying to advertise.
    Disillusioned, you consider taking your newfound swimming skills elsewhere. Before doing so you post your concerns on a forum in order to give someone thinking of becoming a lifeguard an insight into your first hand experience. In response to your post you receive patronising comments from experienced lifeguards on seasonal variations together lessons in statistics rather than any reassuring or constructive comments about where to look to jobs.

    Analogy finished, going to keep seraching for lifeguard vacancies while waiting on one of Penfold's 4000+ useful responses.

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