The government has been urged to create guidelines outlining the provision of career-long CPD for mathematics teachers to help deliver its “ambitious goals” for post-16 study.
The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) says that the government must increase the number of “highly qualified, motivated, expert teachers” to ensure there is capacity for more students to continue to study mathematics to the age of 18.
A 16-page report released this week says ministers must help to nurture a culture of professional development and makes seven recommendations for the Department for Education (DfE).
The report – entitled Empowering Teachers: Success for learners – says the government should compile guidelines for use by school leaders and mathematics subject leaders.
It states: “There are no widely known examples of mathematics-specific professional development pathways for teachers across their career.
“There is a need for good guidance on the mathematics needs of teachers as they progress from novice to expert.
“The mathematical needs of teachers include mathematical subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge.”
ACME also calls for the DfE to commission a “comprehensive, cross-phase analysis” of the mathematical needs of all who teach the subject.
It points to Ofsted’s mathematics report last year – Mathematics: Made to measure – which reported a significant variation in the quality of mathematics teaching and that non-specialist, less experienced or non-permanent teachers were more likely to be assigned to teach students in lower sets.
A third recommendation in the ACME paper says that the DfE and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should set-up a programme of “targeted support for sustained mathematics-specific professional development”.
From September 2014, all students who fail to attain at least a C grade in maths and English will have to continue to study these subjects post-16 until they do.
The education and training participation age is also to rise to 18 by 2015. It was raised to 17 this year.
Professor Stephen Sparks, the chair of ACME, said: “It’s clear that a good mathematics education is vital for individuals as well as wider society. Given the growth in the numbers of primary school children, concerns about the subject expertise of key stage 3 teachers and the government’s ambitious goals for post-16 mathematics participation, there is an urgent need to increase the number of well-qualified teachers of mathematics in schools and colleges.
“The UK already has some of the best and most dedicated mathematics teachers. We now need to make sure that they are properly supported throughout their careers to meet the government’s objectives and provide the best possible education for students.”
ACME is an independent committee based at the Royal Society. You can download the report at www.acme-uk.org