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Ditch the imperatives!

What makes a good maths teacher? The ability to deliver a neat three-part lesson and be a dab hand with PowerPoint presentations are not the definition of success, according to Jane Imrie, of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics.

Over the next year, the centre is to conduct an inquiry into effective classroom practice, designed to help teachers develop their performance.

Although she wants to start with no preconceptions, Ms Imrie took issue with the idea that particular one-size-fits-all approaches to teaching practice were the way to go.

She said: "You hear teachers say things like 'you have to have a three-part lesson' and 'you have to have a PowerPoint in every lesson'.

"Somewhere, a message has got through that there's a unique model about how to teach maths. But it's not about one model. The best teachers are the really reflective ones who make things their own, adapt to learners and review what they have done."

Accordingly, the investigation will seek to listen to teachers about the detail of what constitutes effective teaching, while recognising the challenges they face in improving their practice, such as a shortage of time, curriculum requirements and assessment.

It is being backed by the national strategies and Ofsted, which many would see as among the biggest influences on classroom practice.

Ms Imrie added: "It's about reaffirming what good teaching and learning is.

We do not just want to leave teachers adrift; we want to provide well trialled examples of approaches that will work well."

The inquiry was launched last week, with a national conference in London at which an invited audience of teachers contributed to debates and seminars on the subject.

Teachers are also being invited to contribute opinions and evidence through the national centre's website. Regional conferences will follow over the autumn and winter,. A final report, including detailed exemplar materials setting out different teaching approaches, will be published next year.

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