Survey for teachers of mathematics and science

This survey is part of the Institute of Education‘s work for The Royal Society project “Vision for Science and Mathematics Education 5-19”. A quote:

The Royal Society’s objectives include support for the development of a world class education system in science and mathematics as a contribution both to research and to UK economic competitiveness.  The current research is aimed at helping to redress identified shortcomings in current provision relating to teachers and the science and mathematics workforce, leadership and ethos within schools and colleges, infrastructure and accountability.

What surprises me is that such issues as subject knowledge and mathematical competence of mathematics teachers are not even mentioned in the survey. Look at relevant questions in the survey — they do not mention that!

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Quality maths graduates flock to teaching

Press release from the Department of Education. A quote:

Our classrooms are now staffed by high-achieving maths graduates according to the latest figures released from the Teaching Agency (TA).  Data reveals that almost one in five maths graduates are becoming teachers. In addition, for the first time, over half of new maths trainee teachers have upper second-class degrees, or better .

The data, from the Higher Education Statistical Unit, shows that 18.5 per cent of maths graduates surveyed three and a half years after graduating chose to go into teaching. TA’s own data also shows that the proportion of maths graduates entering training with a 2:1 degree or better has risen from 44 per cent to 51 per cent in just three years.

From Notes to Editors:

Analysis of the HESA data was carried out by HECSU on behalf of the Teaching Agency.  The Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education (DLHE) survey is the official biannual follow-up to the annual national survey. It examines the careers of a sample of UK graduates, 3.5 years after they have graduated, and is designed to give a longer-term insight into the early career progression of graduates. [...] The census data is available online.

School maths is failing children – a US and Australian perspective

A post by Jon Borwein and David H. Bailey in The Conversation. A quote:

Pedagogy and mathematics

It is undeniably important that mathematics teachers have mastered the topics they need to teach. The new Australian national curriculum is misguidedly increasing the amount of “statistics” of the school mathematics curriculum from less that 10% to as much as 40%. Many teachers are far from ready for the change.

But more often than not, the problem is not the mathematical expertise of the teachers. Pedagogical narrowness is a greater problem. Telling that there is a correct idea in a wrong solution to a problem on fractions requires unpacking of elementary concepts in a way that even an expert mathematician is not usually trained to do.

One of us – Jon – learned this only too well when he first taught future elementary school teachers their final university mathematics course.

Australian teachers at an elite private school could not understand one of Jon’s daughter’s Canadian long-division method nor her solution techniques for many advanced school topics. She got mediocre marks during the year because of this.

Half of maths teaching places vacant

From The Telegraph:

Figures show 46 per cent of places are empty around six months before courses start.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools, which administers the process, insisted numbers were up on last year but admitted there was “still an urgent need for even more high quality recruits”.

According to figures, some 70 per cent of places on physics courses are still unfilled.

The disclosure comes despite the introduction of generous bursary packages designed to pull graduates with top degrees into the teaching profession.

For the first time this September, £20,000 will be available for students with a first-class degree to teach maths, sciences and foreign languages. Students with a 2:1 degree are set to get £15,000 to teach the most important subjects, while those with 2:2s could receive £12,000.

Stephen Hillier, TDA chief executive, said: “Good teachers can make all the difference in bringing maths to life for pupils and raising standards.

“Mathematicians entering the profession can rest assured that they will receive rigorous training that will include strategies for managing pupil behaviour and provide them with very good preparation for the classroom.”

According to figures, 2,635 places are available on maths training courses starting in September. Some 1,432 – 54 per cent – have been filled already.