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:
How about a 5 year scheme where your student loan is paid off as an incentive? https://t.co/UyHmHBFISW— Corinne Angier (@atmCorinne) July 31, 2016
Career progression and sabbaticals
Less contact time
And when it comes to retention: some more votes for sabbaticals
Have you left uk maths teaching in the last year to pursue another career? What might have made you stay?— Learning Maths (@LearningMaths) July 31, 2016
@LearningMaths Behaviour is a big issue. One particularly difficult class/student is enough to drive someone out of teaching.— Jo Morgan (@mathsjem) July 31, 2016
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.