What would tempt you to become a maths teacher?

The government wants more people to teach maths. Now maths teachers have come up with their own ideas on how to keep staff in the job and attract new recruits

Helen Ward

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The government has said that it wants all pupils to study maths until the age of 18 – and that means more maths teachers are needed.

But a recent survey by the Mathematical Association revealed the worrying extent to which maths departments in secondary schools already depend on non-specialist and unqualified staff to teach the subject.

That prompted the question of how more maths graduates could be tempted into the profession – or whether other solutions to the teacher shortage could work.

On Twitter, the suggestions from teachers included:

  • Loan forgiveness

 

 

  • Career progression and sabbaticals

 

 

  • Less contact time

 

 

 

  • And when it comes to retention: some more votes for sabbaticals

 

 

  •  Tackling behaviour 

 

 

  • and a better work/life balance

 

 

In the Mathematical Association survey of 520 staff, which was carried out in June and July, fewer than half of maths teachers (46 per cent) said their departments were fully staffed for September. The survey revealed that 54 per cent of maths teachers were teaching alongside at least one non-specialist – someone who had trained as a teacher in another subject – and 29 per cent said there were unqualified staff in their department.

Reviewing post-16 maths

The government has launched a review, chaired by Professor Sir Adrian Smith, the vice-chancellor of the University of London, into the feasibility of compulsory post-16 maths teaching. The review is due to report at the end of the year.

In response to the survey, the Department for Education said it continued to offer generous bursaries and scholarships for trainee maths teachers and was also investing £67 million to transform science, technology, engineering and maths teaching in England by recruiting up to 2,500 additional maths and physics teachers, and providing subject knowledge training to 15,000 non-specialist serving teachers.

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