Open door to let in more maths teachers

A new formula for tackling the national shortage of maths teachers was launched this week, allowing mature students the chance to pick up their chosen career through an Open University part-time, distance learning course.

Approved by the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Scottish Executive, the first dedicated maths course has attracted six students across the country.

Agnes Stark, a Kirkcaldy supply teacher, said that her career had stalled since she came to Scotland from Hungary six years ago. She can now retrain as a maths teacher. "I qualified as a teacher in Hungary eight years ago but my lack of experience in Scottish schools meant that supply teaching was the only possible route open to me," she said.

"The OU programme will give me the chance to update my skills, get the experience and confidence I need to get a permanent teaching position, and finally do what I have always wanted to do. The flexibility of the OU course is very important because I work part-time and have two small children. It means I don't have to look for childcare and can study at night or whenever it fits in."

Joan Guran from Ayr said: "It's a big thing to have to give up your job for a year to study full-time, especially if you have got a family. The quality of the course materials was another important factor."

Students can study online, work at a pace that suits them and attend three optional day schools as part of their studies.

Nationally, places on maths courses remain uncapped by the executive. All students are having their course fees met and can apply for a range of other benefits.

Wendy Bellars, OU staff tutor in education, said: "The maths PGCE is a great breakthrough for the OU in Scotland, but more importantly, it is opening up teaching to a wealth of very talented and committed people."

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