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18th May 2007 at 01:00
The first time I applied for a job, as an NQT, I was turned down. The school felt I wouldn't be able to cope with teaching A-level maths, because I didn't have a maths degree. It was frustrating. I vowed not to miss out on other jobs for the same reason, so I signed up for this course. That in itself was enough to give another school confidence to employ me, and to let me teach A-level.

The training is spread over 17 months, and is extremely thorough. You work through modules in your own time, with guidance from a tutor, and there are regular workshops at Warwick University, where everyone on the programme meets up.

There is no way that a one or two-day course could have anything like the same impact. This is proper career development, not just a refresher.

One of the great things is that a tutor actually comes out to your school and watches you teach A-level. That way they can assess the areas you need to work on. My lessons have always been quite interactive, but I realised I was asking a lot of closed questions, with right or wrong answers. I now try to ask open-ended questions, which really encourage children to think.

It's not easy, because you cannot change habits overnight. But I'm heading in the right direction. I try to make sure each question builds on the previous one, so that pupils find it easier to make connections.

For a young teacher, a course like this makes a world of difference. It provides you with resources that you wouldn't have time to produce yourself. And it gives you helpful contacts. I've met several A-level examiners through the course, and if I've got a problem I just email them. Teachers need to network

Laura Kelly is a maths teacher at St Peter's Catholic School in Guildford.

She was talking to Steven Hastings

The details Teaching Advanced Mathematics is run by Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI), an independent curriculum development body. There are four regional bases: London, Chichester, Warwick and Manchester universities.

This year's course begins in June. Teachers wanting to apply should visit www.mei.org.uktam.shtml for further details.

The programme is subsidised by the Gatsby Foundation. The cost to teachers is pound;500.

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