Maths centre hit by resignations

10th November 2006 at 00:00
The future of the Government's pound;15 million centre for maths teaching looks uncertain after a spate of resignations, including the departure of director Professor David Burghes.

The upheaval will come as an embarrassment to the Department of Education and Skills which launched the centre little over four months ago to boost recruitment and exam scores in the subject.

Two assistant directors, Dr Ted Graham and Rob Smith, have left the project, as has Steve Knight, a former senior director at Tribal, the project's backers.

The resignations follow months of dispute with the department over the centre's role. Several regional coordinators are also reported to be considering their future. The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics was launched in June as part of a response to the damning 2004 Smith Report, which highlighted the plummeting teacher numbers and branded maths GCSE "not fit for purpose".

But the centre appears to have been in limbo for four months, after a clash of visions between Professor Burghes, a maverick figure who is not afraid of criticising the educational establishment, and the Government. "The centre has done next to nothing since it opened. Frankly it's a shambles,"

said a source.

Dr Graham said that Professor Burghes had been "pushed out". "I'm appalled by his treatment and that's why I'm going," he told The TES. Mr Smith said:

"A lot of people who worked on the project are very hacked off." There appears to have been dissatisfaction at the DfES with Professor Burghes'

"hands-on" approach which involved being out of the office, collaborating with teachers.

"There was a feeling that he wasn't spending enough time on strategy. The DfES said that it had begun searching for replacements.

A STORMY START

Feb 2004 Professor Adrian Smith recommends creating a pound;92m National Centre for Excellence.

June 2006 The centre is launched Nov 2006 Professor David Burghes, director, and several senior colleagues resign, after clashes with the DfES

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