Longitudinal study of ‘retraining’ non-maths specialist teachers to become capable, confident teachers of mathematics
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One of the key problems to be solved in mathematics education in England is that the demand for mathematics teachers is far in excess of the supply. Acknowledging that there are simply too few mathematics teachers, the UK government has invested significantly in retraining programmes. These programmes ‘retrain’ out-of-field teachers, that is, teachers of other subjects or from other phases, to teach secondary mathematics. The increased mathematical demand of the reformed GCSE courses coupled with the expectation that most post-16 students will engage with some mathematics (studying for A and AS levels, a Core Maths qualification or re-sitting GCSE) means many more teachers of mathematics will be needed. We consider the viability of a retraining course as an effective way of alleviating the problem of the lack of well qualified teachers for mathematics. In this four-year longitudinal study, we followed teachers during their year of ‘retraining’ and in the succeeding years. Once a participant completes their part-time one-year course, the teacher is considered ‘retrained’. However, we conclude that without ongoing professional development involving collaborative support retraining courses alone can have little impact on the problem of the lack of competent and confident teachers of mathematics in the secondary sector.
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