The BBC is reporting that subject experts are warning it will take a decade to bring maths teaching in England up to world-beating standards.
A report from the Advisory Council on Mathematics Education (ACME) suggests teachers responsible for maths in both primary and secondary schools need better qualifications and training.
Without more good teachers efforts to improve skills were “built on sand”, said report author Robert Barbour…
ACME notes 94% of initial teacher training in England was rated good or outstanding by Ofsted last year but urges a “a step change” for maths teacher training to “meet the challenge of England becoming a world-class mathematics education system”.
“We are not at the bottom, we are not a basket case,” said Mr Barbour, who added that he felt maths teaching in England should “aspire to level with the best”.
The authors compared maths teacher training in England with four of the world’s most successful education systems: Singapore, Shanghai, Germany and Massachusetts.
In particular, all trainee teachers who will teach maths should have higher qualifications than at present, both at primary and secondary level, they argue.
All primary teachers teach maths, argues the report, but most have not studied the subject since they were 16.
Currently trainee primary teachers must have at least C at GCSE maths but, in the long-term, the authors want all trainee primary teachers to have studied maths to 18.
The government’s new core maths qualifications, which encourage teenagers to use maths in real situations, would be ideal, they argue.
The difficulty is “schools are finding they haven’t got the teachers to offer core maths”, said Mr Barbour.
At secondary level, the shortage of maths graduates means more trainees with related degrees such as economics should be encouraged into the subject with courses to enhance their mathematical knowledge, says the report.
But these courses can be variable in quality and need better regulation, said Mr Barbour.
The report also calls for better mathematics mentoring for trainee and newly qualified teachers at both primary and secondary level, with subject experts based in schools.
It also urges better professional development for fully qualified teachers.
The authors recognise these changes will take time.
“We can’t flick a switch and say we will do this next year. It will take long term patient planning but it will have a huge impact,” said Mr Barbour.
The National Association of Head Teachers said 10 years was too long to wait for more good maths teachers.
“The children in the system today won’t see the benefits before they leave school,” said general secretary Russell Hobby…
What do you make of the recommendation that all those teaching maths should have a post-16 qualification in it? Is that a reasonable expectation?
What else from the report would you either welcome or take issue with?
Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link