Negative effect of maths restrictions

9th July 2004 at 01:00
We are all acutely aware of the lack of candidates to enter the profession and specialise in teaching secondary mathematics.

As a recent graduate who would like to teach, I am appreciative of the government funding available, and the support of the Teacher Training Agency, who have confirmed that the three ways of qualification are through a university-based postgraduate certificate in education, a school-centred initial teacher-training scheme or a graduate teacher programme.

I am about to exhaust all three options. The singular and repetitive glitch being that my prospects are disproportionately reduced for holding a degree with a mathematical content of less than 50 per cent.

Rightly so; a teacher of any subject would always desire qualifications above the level of their students in order to teach informatively and with confidence.

Problem one: what proportion of A-level students who enter university and study for a degree in maths, or one having a mathematical content of 50 per cent or more, want to teach after graduating?

I don't know the answer to this question but there must be far fewer suitably qualified candidates if the "bar" is fixed at 50 per cent.

Problem two: an obviously larger number of schoolchildren study GCSE maths and evidently any such shortage or crisis would be felt far more in this age group.

From my continuing experience, as documented, and as an A-graded maths A-level student and BSc architecture graduate, I suggest that the mathematics PGCE be partitioned to allow for qualification in separate 11 to 16 and 11 to 18 age ranges.

Serious consideration needs to be given to candidates who are appropriately graded at maths A-level, of graduate-calibre, and who desire to teach at key stage 3 amp; 4, perhaps confirming their eligibility with a standardised, curriculum-based national assessment scheme.

It would then be quite reasonable to expect the candidate, once settled after qualification, to attempt further study and qualify in teaching specific modules of an A-level curriculum on a staged basis, as required by further national standards or dependent upon school need.

Charles Cockram

20 Pytchley Drive Long Buckby Northamptonshire

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