The Post-14 Mathematics Inquiry

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Making Mathematics Count

The Report of Professor Adrian Smith's Inquiry into Post-14 Mathematics Education

Chapter 2 - The Supply of Teachers of Mathematics

The need for qualified teachers of mathematics
Teacher shortages and their effect on students' performance
The shortfall of specialist mathematics teachers in secondary schools
The shortfall of specialist mathematics teachers in colleges
The shortfall of ITT mathematics trainers
Teacher vacancies
Teacher age-profiles and forecasts of future supply requirements
The decline in post-16 take up of mathematics
Teacher recruitment
Teachers' Remuneration
A summary of additional comments on teacher supply in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

The need for qualified teachers of mathematics

2.1 The Inquiry has sought and received input from a wide range of stakeholders. Not surprisingly, not everyone agrees on every issue relating to post–14 curriculum, assessment, pedagogy and qualifications. But we have identified one issue on which all stakeholders agree: the absolute necessity of ensuring adequate provision of appropriately qualified and supported mathematics teachers in schools, Sixth Form and FE colleges. This is seen by the overwhelming majority of respondents to the Inquiry to be the essential prerequisite for delivering long-term future improvements to post–14 mathematics education. The Inquiry also sees this as the highest priority.
2.2 We recognise in relation to our recommendations in this chapter and in Chapters 5 and 6 that devolved responsibilities for teacher recruitment, retention, and employment terms and conditions vary across the four territories of the UK. Responsibilities for teacher supply, training, employment terms and conditions and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) are fully devolved to Northern Ireland and Scotland (although Northern Ireland has historically approached issues of pay and conditions with a view to generally maintaining parity with arrangements in England and Wales). Wales determines its own intake targets for Initial Teacher Training and incentives paid to student teachers, and has devolved responsibility for CPD, but responsibility for teachers’ terms and conditions remains with the DfES. In relation to teacher supply, further summary discussion in relation to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is given at the end of this chapter.
2.3 It is also clear that the perception of the problem of mathematics teacher recruitment and retention varies considerably across the four territories of the UK. In summary, respondents have raised very serious concerns about England and Wales, significant concerns about some aspects of the situation in Northern Ireland, but no serious current concerns about Scotland. Much of our discussion and analysis will therefore be addressed to the situation in England and Wales (often, for convenience, using larger volume England data sources), but often we believe with some relevance to Northern Ireland.
2.4 The consensus view of what is an appropriately qualified mathematics teacher at secondary school and college levels seems well captured by the categorisations adopted in the 1982 Cockcroft Report, Mathematics Counts, which are set out in Table 2.1 below. To the categories of those with good or acceptable qualifications, we would now add those undertaking the new pre-ITT mathematics enhancement courses (see below paragraphs 2.65–67).

Table 2.1: Categories of qualifications of teachers used in the Cockcroft report

Good Trained graduates, or equivalent, with mathematics as the first, main or only subject of a degree course. Bachelors of Education (BEd) with mathematics as a main specialist subject. Teachers whose general qualifications were of either of these types with mathematics as a subsidiary subject provided their main specialism was in a related subject, such as computer studies, physics or engineering.
Acceptable Trained graduates, graduate equivalents, or BEd with mathematics as a second or subsidiary specialism if their first subject was not related. Untrained graduates with mathematics as first, main or only subject. Teachers holding the Certificate in Education, having followed a secondary course in which mathematics was their first, main or only specialism. Teachers with no initial mathematical qualifications who had a further qualification resulting from a course of at least one year in which mathematics was the main subject.
Weak Teachers holding the Certificate in Education, having followed a secondary course with mathematics as a second or subsidiary subject, provided their first or main subject was related. Teachers holding the Certificate in Education having followed a Junior or Junior /Secondary course with mathematics as their first or main subject. Teachers in the immediately preceding category with subsidiary mathematics, provided their main subject was related. Graduates in any subject provided their course included a related subject.
Nil Qualified teachers without any recorded mathematics (qualifications) and not covered by any previous specification. Teachers holding the Certificate in Education with mathematics subsidiary to an unrelated subject. Teachers without any initial qualification possessing a further qualification which did not lead to graduate status and in which mathematics was not the main subject.
Cockcroft, W.H. (1982) Mathematics Counts. London, HMSO.
2.5 Ensuring adequate numbers of appropriately qualified mathematics teachers clearly involves both issues of recruitment and retention. This chapter of the Inquiry report will review the evidence available to us about current numbers, qualifications and recruitment trends. So far as retention issues are concerned, respondents to the Inquiry believe that the key issue is that of professional support, particularly Continuing Professional Development (CPD). We see this as an important topic in its own right and we will separately discuss professional support issues in Chapters 5 and 6.

Teacher shortages and their effect on students’ performance

2.6 Despite a recent small decline in advertised teacher vacancies and numbers of temporary teachers employed, a number of respondents to the Inquiry have reported that many secondary schools and further education colleges in England and Wales still have considerable difficulty in recruiting and retaining specialist mathematics teachers. According to the 2000/1 annual report (HMI 0–10–291358–7) of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools:
“In Mathematics: there are insufficient teachers to match the demands of the mathematics curriculum in one school in eight, a situation that has deteriorated from the previous year.”

The Chief Inspector’s report for 2001/2 (HMI 0-10-292032-X) states that:

“Across secondary schools there remain significant difficulties in the recruitment of specialist teachers, particularly, but not exclusively, in mathematics … These recruitment difficulties are having an adverse impact on pupils’ standards of achievement. For example: the quality of mathematics teaching at Key Stages 3 and 4 suffers in many schools because the limited amount of specialist teachers’ expertise is deployed largely on post–16 courses. As a result, non-specialist teachers undertake a significant minority of the teaching at Key Stage 3, where they find it difficult to respond effectively to the demands of the Key Stage 3 Strategy.”
2.7 The Inquiry notes with concern the Chief Inspector’s view in 2001/02 that shortages of specialist teachers in mathematics are having an adverse effect on pupils’ performance. This is a view echoed by many respondents to the Inquiry and further supported by data presented in the SET for Success report. Figure 2.1 below (which reproduces Figure 2.14 of the SET for Success report), shows the proportion of head teachers in an OECD study who believe that teacher shortage or inadequacy is hindering the learning of pupils in different subjects. The Inquiry notes that, according to this survey, the position of mathematics is strikingly worse in the UK than in other OECD countries.
Figure 2.1: Proportion of schools in which teacher shortages/inadequacy are adversely affecting pupils
2.8 This concern about the effect of the shortage of specialist teachers on students’ learning of mathematics has been echoed by almost all respondents to the Inquiry. In England, Ofsted, the Teacher Training Agency (TTA), headteachers and mathematics teaching professionals have all communicated their concern. The General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) has expressed concern that in Wales secondary school posts in mathematics attract significantly fewer applicants than for many other subjects. Surveys in Northern Ireland have shown there to be significant concerns about the situation in non-grammar schools and even some concern regarding recruitment to grammar schools The Inquiry shares these concerns. In our view, the very highest priority in tackling the mathematics problem is to increase the supply of mathematically qualified, effectively trained specialist mathematics teachers. There are considerable difficulties in addressing this supply problem and we can fully understand that those confronting the problem must sometimes despair and be led to seek other solutions, which involve the deployment of non-specialist staff. We note, however, the contrast with the view taken in Scotland, where, since 2000/01, teachers of mathematics have been required to have studied the subject for three years at university.
2.9 The Inquiry urges the DfES and the LSC to continue to acknowledge the importance of specialist teachers in mathematics and to accept that increasing the supply of specialist teachers of mathematics is an essential component of any strategy for tackling the mathematics problem in English schools (DfES) and colleges (LSC). We similarly urge the relevant authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland to give the issue the very highest priority and to consider, where appropriate, whether they might wish to implement their own versions of recommendations made for the English context. The rest of this chapter of the report focuses on what we perceive to be the scale of the problem of under-supply in England and ways in which we believe, over time, that supply can be increased.

The shortfall of specialist mathematics teachers in secondary schools

2.10 Official estimates of the numbers, age, profile and qualifications of teachers of mathematics in secondary schools in England are based on the Secondary Schools Curriculum and Staffing Survey (SSCSS). Until 1996, the Secondary SSCSS was conducted at four-yearly intervals. However, the Inquiry has noted with concern that the most recent SSCSS took place after a six-year interval, with a closing survey date of 21 November 2002. Some preliminary findings on qualifications and age profile have been released from the 2002 SSCSS and will inform our attempts to analyse trends. However, these findings are in the form of percentage breakdowns and we regret that key data on absolute numbers are not available for inclusion in this report.
2.11 From the 1996 Survey, it was estimated that there were 27,100 full-time and 3,700 part-time teachers in secondary schools with a post A-level qualification in mathematics. Not all of these were engaged in full-time mathematics teaching, but of the 25,200 full-time teachers actually teaching mathematics in years 7–13, 20 per cent had no post A-level qualification in mathematics. The number of teachers with a post A-level qualification teaching mathematics was 20,160 in 1996.
2.12 One interesting inference from these figures is that in 1996 there appear to have been nearly 7,000 teachers in secondary schools with a post A-level qualification in mathematics who were not teaching mathematics. This is of the order of 25 per cent of the qualified cohort within schools. Some of these teachers may, of course, have moved to teach other subjects – for example, computer studies. However, it seems very unlikely that this accounts for more than a fraction of the large numbers of qualified teachers no longer teaching mathematics. This seems to the Inquiry to raise serious issues about current school level resource management and the incentives for qualified subject teachers to remain teaching their subject rather than moving into other posts.
Recommendation 2.1
The Inquiry recommends that the DfES undertake a review of school level resource management of qualified mathematics teachers in England. This review should include an assessment of whether current career paths and rewards provide appropriate incentives for qualified mathematics teachers to continue teaching mathematics. The LSC might wish to consider a similar exercise regarding the deployment of qualified mathematics teachers in colleges.
2.13 It has been suggested to the Inquiry that, in considering issues of qualified teacher supply in secondary schools, we should base our analysis solely on those actually teaching mathematics rather than on the total numbers with a post A-level qualification, since the latter include many teachers who are not currently teaching mathematics. This seems to us to ignore two important points. First, it disregards the potential for increasing the pool of qualified mathematics teachers actually teaching mathematics within schools by making suitable changes to school level resource management practices and incentives for teachers to remain teaching their subject. Secondly, it does not take on board that if future trends continue to reflect the fact that something like a quarter of post A-level qualified mathematics teachers eventually end up not teaching mathematics this needs to be factored into projections and strategies for mathematics teacher recruitment.
2.14 The 1996, 1992 and 1988 surveys revealed a worrying trend in the number of teachers qualified in mathematics as shown in Table 2.2. Some of the decline from 1992 will be due to the transfer of Sixth Form Colleges from the Schools to the FE Sector during the period after the 1992 survey. However, even allowing for this, the figures suggest a significant decline over the period in the number of qualified mathematics teachers in secondary schools. It is therefore a cause of considerable concern to the Inquiry that up to date numbers are not available to us from the 2002 SSCSS.

Table 2.2: Survey numbers of qualified mathematics teachers in maintained secondary schools in England and Wales

Survey Teachers qualified in Mathematics (full and part-time)
1996 Survey 30,800
1992 Survey 43,900
1988 Survey 46,500
2.15 The Inquiry believes that a clear understanding of trends in the provision of qualified mathematics teachers is a key prerequisite to informed policy making regarding mathematics teacher recruitment and retention. The Inquiry therefore has further serious concerns about the low response rates in these recent surveys. The 1996 survey was based on a sample of 553 secondary schools and achieved a response rate of 60 per cent. The 2002 survey was based on a sample of 883 schools and achieved a response rate of 24 per cent. The DfES response to the Inquiry’s concern regarding these low response rates has been to argue that they are a direct consequence of the excessive burdens that such surveys place on schools. The Inquiry notes this argument, but regards it as defeatist and unhelpful. We are absolutely convinced that policy making in this area requires good quality data and we urge the DfES and the LSC to accept and take forward Recommendation 2.2 below.
2.16 In the absence of key numbers from the 2002 survey, the Inquiry has examined alternative approaches to quantifying the current situation regarding numbers of qualified mathematics teachers. Estimates supplied to the Inquiry by the DfES suggest an outflow from maintained secondary schools in England and Wales in the period 1996 to 2003 of just over 8,900 teachers with a post A-level mathematics qualification actually teaching mathematics. Over the same period, the total inflow with a post A-level mathematics qualification has been just over 7,300. As we have seen from the 1996 figures, we can infer that something like 25 per cent of the teacher cohort qualified to teach mathematics ends up not actually teaching mathematics. Applying this to the inflow figure of 7,300 given above, we would estimate that this corresponds in the steady state to an addition of around 5,500 to the cohort of qualified mathematics teachers who will actually be teaching mathematics, The decline over the period of qualified mathematic teachers actually teaching mathematics is likely therefore to have been of the order of around 3,400.
2.17 It is not clear how schools have been able to cope with the shortfalls without an increased use of unqualified teachers. The 2002 Curriculum Survey, published in April 2003, shows mathematics still being taught to 100 per cent of pupils in Years 7–11, with no apparent change in the time allocated to the subject in any of the year groups. We note that the survey does not provide information on the number of pupils in teaching groups. Overall in secondary schools, class sizes seem to have remained relatively constant, but anecdotal evidence to the Inquiry suggests that class sizes in many sixth forms and FE Colleges have been increasing significantly. There are other changes that have impacted further upon the numbers of qualified mathematics teachers in schools and colleges. In particular, respondents to the Inquiry have estimated that the mathematics strand of the KS3 Strategy has resulted in at least some 300 experienced secondary mathematics teachers being taken out of schools since 2001 to support this initiative.
2.18 It is clear that the non-occurrence of the SSCSS survey in 2000 and the need to place continued reliance on the 1996 data has caused considerable concern to the many stakeholders already worried about the supply of qualified mathematics teachers. This has led in the interim to several attempts at unofficial surveys of the position. In 2001, a joint group from The Open University, King’s College London and the National Association of Mathematics Advisors (NAMA) carried out a survey1 of all NAMA members in a mix of metropolitan, unitary and shire counties across England. A total of 228 schools responded from 22 LEAs, involving a mixture of 1,571 full-time and part-time teachers of mathematics.
2.19 In addition, Willis (2002)2 surveyed 54 schools involving 364 mathematics teachers on behalf of the Secondary Headteachers Association (SHA) and Roper (2002)3, using the same definitions as the NAMA survey, surveyed 158 schools involving 536 mathematics teachers. The Inquiry has significant reservations about the unofficial and small-scale nature of these surveys. We also have a concern about response rates, a concern that also applies to the SSCSS 2002 survey, as noted above. However, to the extent that response bias in this context is felt by many respondents to be likely to lead to an understatement of the problem, the surveys may be indicative and we feel, on balance, that the outcomes are worth reporting. To facilitate comparisons with earlier studies, the data from the NAMA survey were analysed by the authors using the same categories as in the Cockcroft report (see Table 2.1).
2.20 The OU/KCL/NAMA report makes clear that it is not the intention of the authors that the terms ‘good’, ‘acceptable’, ‘weak’ be seen as necessarily applicable to every individual teacher whose qualifications fall in the relevant category. The assumption is rather that the overall picture based on this categorisation provides a meaningful measure of the extent of the shortage of specialist mathematics teachers. The Inquiry agrees that the measures used in these surveys do provide a reasonable aggregate basis for quantifying the shortage of appropriately qualified mathematics teachers.
2.21 Results of the OU/KCL/NAMA survey (see Table 2.3) show that, in the schools responding, nearly 24 per cent of those teaching mathematics had ‘weak’ or ‘nil’ qualifications in mathematics. The survey also revealed a number of school mathematics departments with large numbers of part-time teachers teaching mathematics. Overall, the schools reported that 8 per cent of mathematics teachers were about to retire. Of the 504 teachers who taught AS or A-level, 34 (nearly 7 per cent) had A-level as their highest mathematics qualification and 3 had no higher qualification than GCSE.

Table 2.3: Qualifications of mathematic teachers

Good 916 58.3 per cent
Acceptable 230 14.6 per cent
Weak 100 6.4 per cent
Nil 275 17.5 per cent
Not reported 51 3.3 per cent
2.22 There are a significant number of part-time teachers of mathematics in secondary schools. In order, therefore, to get an estimate of how much teaching is carried out by teachers with ‘weak’ or ‘nil’ initial mathematics qualifications it is necessary to consider the percentage tuition time rather than just teacher numbers in each category. This results in the estimates given in Table 2.4. These estimates suggest that, among the schools responding, 14.6 per cent (one in seven) of secondary mathematics lessons in England are taught by teachers with ‘weak’ or ‘nil’ mathematics qualifications.

Table 2.4: Qualifications of mathematic teachers by hours of teaching

Good 17570 69.2 per cent
Acceptable 4116 16.2 per cent
Weak 1221 4.8 per cent
Nil 2480 9.8 per cent
2.23 Willis (2002) also estimated that 14 per cent of mathematics lessons (one in seven) were taught by a teacher not qualified to teach mathematics, although we note that his definition of “qualified” was not as stringent as the OU/KCL/NAMA definition. Roper (2002) also estimated that 14 per cent of mathematics teachers were not properly qualified to teach mathematics. This latter survey, unlike the other two, also included independent schools. Assuming a pupil to teacher ratio of 17.0 in maintained secondary schools in England (the January 2003 figure reported in SFR 23/2003) and assuming that around 13 per cent of the curriculum is devoted to mathematics, the OU/KCL/NAMA report calculates that some 25,900 full-time equivalent mathematics teachers are needed for the secondary school sector. The OU/KCL/NAMA report concludes, therefore, that just under 3,800 mathematics teachers need to be trained or brought into the system to cover the posts currently filled by teachers with ‘weak’ or ‘nil’ mathematics qualifications. Notwithstanding concerns about the unofficial nature of the surveys, sample sizes and response rates, the Inquiry believes that the analyses summarised above provide a prima facie case for estimating there to be a current shortfall of 3,400–3,800 qualified mathematics teachers teaching mathematics in secondary schools in England.
2.24 The OU/KCL/NAMA survey also collected data, Table 2.5 below, on the experience of schools trying to recruit teachers of mathematics. Respondents clearly felt that the number of applicants for mathematics teaching posts with ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ mathematics qualifications continues to decline. Some schools reported advertising for five or six teachers during a single year. Over a quarter advertised for three or more mathematics teachers during the year. Overall, only 37.1 per cent of the appointments made by those schools responding to the survey were considered to be of teachers with ‘good’ mathematics qualifications.

Table 2.5: Results of advertisements in the year 2001–2002

Good appointment 136 37.1 %
Satisfactory appointment 70 19.1 %
Appointment needing support 40 10.9 %
Unsatisfactory appointment – no choice 39 10.6 %
No appointment made – staff moved 77 21.0 %
Vacancy 5 1.4 %
2.25 The SSCSS also collects data on teacher qualifications. However, the Inquiry is concerned that current categorisations used in the SSCSS survey do not permit clear inferences to be drawn. The SSCSS estimated the percentages of teachers of mathematics who hold no qualifications in mathematics higher than A-Level to be around 20 per cent in 1996 rising to 26 per cent in 2002. However, the categorisation used in the survey only indicates the lack of a mathematics degree. It does not distinguish between other degrees with a high mathematical content (eg physics) and those with low mathematical content. This ambiguity is reflected in the Secretary of State’s 25 September, 2003, press statement regarding the 2002 SSCSS:
“A proportion of mathematics teachers are listed in the survey as having ‘no qualification in mathematics’; but this does not mean they are unqualified. Most of these teachers are likely to be qualified and graduates in subjects such as physics .... They may only teach one or two periods of mathematics a week.”
2.26 The Inquiry would be considerably reassured to know that this was the case, although we might have concerns about these teachers’ knowledge of and exposure to mathematics pedagogy if their specialist training had been in a different subject. However, we find it frustrating and unsatisfactory that such issues are currently matters of speculation rather than being clearly evidencebased. To achieve the latter, we need clearer categorisation in the survey, perhaps based on the Cockcroft categorisation, in order to distinguish qualifications with appropriate mathematics content from those lacking such content (see Recommendation 2.2 below).

The shortfall of specialist mathematics teachers in colleges

2.27 We also note that the SSCSS relates solely to teachers of mathematics in maintained secondary schools. However, there are a significant number of teachers of mathematics in independent schools and Sixth Form and FE Colleges. In relation to colleges, the Inquiry notes that the LSC currently has no equivalent of the SSCSS data on numbers and qualifications of teachers of mathematics. Data in colleges are currently collected in the categories used for Ofsted inspections, for which mathematics numbers are subsumed within the science category and are not separately identifiable. We view this absence of data with some concern in view of a number of developments that are likely to increase demands on mathematics teaching resources in colleges. For example, DfES evidence to the Inquiry acknowledges that progress on the adult numeracy strategy could be undermined by the limited pool of competent and confident teachers of mathematics and numeracy currently available in the adult sector. This task of addressing the lack of numeracy skills among a large section of the adult population will require additional staff with mathematics qualifications to provide support to trainers, even if they are not used to deliver the programme. There is also the risk that any shortage might be met by further leakage from the secondary and FE sectors. It has also been suggested to the Inquiry that teaching interested adults may seem more appealing to some current schoolteachers than working with sceptical adolescents. This might result in further losses of mathematics teachers from the secondary school sector.
2.28 However, as there appear to be no national targets for lecturer supply and training in colleges, it is difficult to quantify the effects of these additional pressures on the demand for mathematics educators. The Inquiry regards it as extremely unhelpful that in the key area of mathematics teacher supply there is currently no coherent overall understanding of numbers and qualifications (see Recommendation 2.2 below).

The shortfall of ITT mathematics trainers

2.29 Respondents to the Inquiry have also expressed anxieties about the future capacity and availability of suitably qualified mathematics educators in higher education to deliver quality ITT and provide ongoing CPD. Trainers themselves clearly need to be appropriately academically qualified and to continue to update their own knowledge and skills in order to properly train future teachers. The Inquiry has therefore noted with considerable concern that there does not seem to be an evidence base relating to the numbers and profile of those delivering mathematics teacher training.
2.30 The results of an informal survey carried out in May 2002, by the University Council for the Education of Teachers suggest that there are serious problems ahead. Higher Education Institutions with ITT provision were asked to return the numbers and ages of staff working in mathematics education. Of the trainers covered by these responses, 63 per cent trained primary teachers, 40 per cent trained secondary teachers and 17 per cent trained post–16 teachers (with some overlap). The age profile of those trainers covered by the providers responding to the survey is shown in Table 2.6. Given the relatively low response rate (58 per cent) and some problems with inconsistencies in responses, the Inquiry is not sure how much weight to attach to these figures. However, if they are at all representative, the Inquiry has concerns for the future of a system in which 50 per cent of the current trainers are over 50 years of age.

Table 2.6: Age profile of teacher trainers

Age 26–30 31–35 36–40 41–45 46–50 51–55 56–60 61–65
No. of staff 4 10 9 14 25 40 24 2

The need for up-to-date comprehensive data

2.31 At all levels, the Inquiry has serious concerns about the current evidence base regarding the numbers and profile of those teaching post–14 mathematics in schools, Sixth Form Colleges and FE Colleges and providing mathematics ITT. This evidence base is crucial for understanding current and future supply needs for teachers of mathematics at all levels and for monitoring progress towards meeting these needs. This prompts the following recommendation, expanding on Recommendation 2.1, which we would wish to be taken on board by relevant bodies, including the National Statistics Strategic Review of School Workforce Statistics, which we understand is due to report in 2004.
Recommendation 2.2

The Inquiry recommends that the DfES and the LSC work together and with the TTA to review the frequency and scope of data collection relating to mathematics teacher and teacher trainer numbers and qualifications. They should seek to agree a data collection strategy that will provide the evidence base for a coherent policy approach to the supply of appropriately qualified teachers for the teaching of mathematics across all secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges, and of appropriately qualified ITTmathematics trainers. In particular, the Inquiry recommends that:

  1. (i) a revised form of SSCSS, requiring a mandatory response, should be designed and undertaken as soon as possible to cover not only secondary schools, including those in the independent sector, but also sixth form and furthereducation colleges and providers of mathematics ITT;
  2. (ii) categories of response be redefined, along similar lines to the Cockcroft categorisation, to provide a clearer indication of teacher qualifications;
  3. (iii) the breakdown of qualifications should be available separately for the those teaching key skills, KS3, KS4 and post–16;
  4. (iv) in view of the current critical position in regard to provision of teachers of mathematics and the need for close monitoring of policy initiatives to improve recruitment and retention, at least the first three new surveys should be undertaken every two years.

Teacher vacancies

2.32 Vacancy rates provide another source of data for assessing the extent to which there is a shortage of specialist mathematics teachers. Technically, a vacancy is defined as a post that has been advertised for a full-time permanent appointment (or appointments of at least one-term’s duration) but has not been filled. This includes posts that are being filled on a temporary basis of less than one term. Part-time posts and fixed-term posts that are unfilled are not counted as vacancies, nor are posts that are filled on a temporary basis for one term or more, for example by agency staff.
2.33 Despite recent improvements, analysis of data on vacancies as a percentage of teachers in post confirms that the shortage in teachers of mathematics is more acute than for many other subjects. Concerns about the supply of mathematics teachers in the period 1997–2003 are reflected in evidence provided to the Inquiry by the DfES. Figure 2.2 below illustrates trends in vacancy rates for mathematics compared with a selection of other subjects, and with the aggregate over all subjects in maintained secondary schools in England since 1997. The graph for mathematics reveals an overall rise in the vacancy rate from a level of just under 0.5 per cent of the 1997 mathematics teacher stock, to a peak rate of 2.1 per cent in 2001. In 2002, there was a small decline to 1.9 per cent and in 2003, a further decline to 1.7 per cent. This recent downward trend is encouraging. However, the Inquiry notes that the 2003 rate is still the third highest vacancy rate for mathematics teachers in the past decade and also the second highest for all the other subjects in 2003.
Figure 2.2: Vacancy rates by subject
2.34 Reported numbers of vacancies provided by the DfES to the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) are shown in Figure 2.3. The Inquiry welcomes the recent downward trend but again notes that the current numbers are still well above the average of the 1990s, even as a proportion when increased teacher numbers are taken into account.
Figure 2.3: Reported Vacancies
2.35 Figure 2.4 shows the number of advertisements for mathematics teachers in England that have appeared in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) in the past five years. This prima facie evidence further supports the view that unfilled teacher vacancies have been reducing in number; certainly, there are fewer advertisements than two years ago. The Inquiry again welcomes this trend but remains concerned that the data do not show the extent to which there is still a latent demand for more qualified mathematics teachers in schools where a significant proportion of lessons are taken by unqualified teachers.
Figure 2.4: Number of Advertisements for Mathematics Teachers in the TES
2.36 So far as turnover of staff is concerned, surveys conducted by the National Employers’ Organisation for School Teachers, with support from the DfES and the teacher unions, collect information on resignations by teaching subject. This, combined with information about the number of staff by main teaching subject from the SSCSS, provides the basis for calculating turnover rates. In 2001, the turnover rate for secondary mathematics teachers in England was 15.3 per cent. The Inquiry notes with concern that this was twice that of 1991 (7.6 per cent) and higher than the 13.5 per cent average turnover rate for secondary teachers. Provisional data for 2002, supplied to the Inquiry by the DfES, suggest a small improvement in turnover rate for secondary mathematics teachers of 13.6 per cent against an average for all subjects of 12.5 per cent.

Teacher age-profiles and forecasts of future supply requirements

2.37 International comparisons reported in the Roberts report (SET for Success, paragraph 2.44) suggest that although other countries also experience more shortages of teachers in science and mathematics than in other subjects, the shortages in the UK are considerably worse than elsewhere. Furthermore, teacher shortages in mathematics (as well as physics, chemistry and design Technology) could well worsen over time, since, as shown in Figure 2.5 (Figure 2.13 of SET for Success), fewer teachers whose main qualification is in these subjects are under 30 and more are over 50 compared with their counterparts in other subjects.
Figure 2.5: Teacher Demographics
2.38 A further serious problem for the future arises from trends in the age profile of the mathematics teaching profession. Data from the SSCSS revealed that the position was already worrying in 1996. However, provisional data released from the 2002 SSCSS shows a further marked deterioration in the age profile of mathematics teachers. Of the full-time teachers surveyed in 1996, 63 per cent were over 40 compared with 60 per cent of all secondary teachers; 20 per cent were over 50, compared with 17 per cent of all secondary teachers; 15 per cent were under 30 compared to 16 per cent overall. According to the 2002 SSCSS, 62 per cent were over 40, compared with 56 per cent of all secondary teachers; 31 per cent were over 50, compared with 27 per cent of all secondary teachers; 16 per cent were under 30, compared with 20 per cent overall. Figure 2.6 provides a comparison of the 1996 and 2002 age profiles.
Figure 2.6: Age Profile of Mathematics Teachers
2.39 The shift in age profile of the population of full-time mathematics teachers in secondary schools revealed by the 2002 SSCSS is a cause of major concern to the Inquiry. In particular, we would like to be reassured that this demographic shift is being fully taken into account in modelling future demand and calculating future mathematics teacher training requirements for the whole system in England. As indicated earlier, we cannot see how coherent forecasts can be made at present given the apparent lack of age profile data for those teachers of mathematics working in Sixth Form and FE Colleges. We are also concerned that even existing surveys only cover the maintained secondary school sector and do not factor in the numbers of mathematics teachers required in the independent sector.
Recommendation 2.3

The Inquiry recommends that at the earliest possible opportunity forecasts of future teacher training number requirements for mathematics teachers be re-examined in the light of:

  • the estimate we have suggested of a current shortfall of at least 3,400 qualified mathematics teachers in secondary schools;
  • the age profile findings from the 2002 SSCSS;
  • and taking into account the current position and future needs of independent schools, Sixth form and FE Colleges, in addition to secondary schools.

The decline in post–16 take up of mathematics

2.40 Perhaps the cause of greatest concern to many respondents to the Inquiry, and not only in the context of teacher recruitment, has been the dramatic decline in A-level mathematics entries since the Curriculum 2000 changes were introduced. This is shown in Table 2.7.

Table 2.7: Total A-level entries (all UK, all ages)

Year Numbers of candidates
2003 55,917
2002 53,940
2001 65,891
2000 65,836
1999 68,502
1998 68,846
1997 68,853
1996 67,022
Source: JCGQ.
2.41 The decline in the number of candidates in the period 2000–2003 is of the order of 15 per cent. Respondents have seen this as having serious potential consequences for recruitment into mathematics and other degree courses with high mathematics content, with subsequent problems in two and three years time for recruitment into mathematics teacher training. However, data on numbers entering into undergraduate mathematics courses, shown in Table 2.8 below, present some mixed messages.

Table 2.8: Entry to undergraduate mathematics (all UK)

Year Applicants Acceptances, including clearing applications
2003 3825 4329
2002 3325 3840
2001 3863 4006
2000 3925 4052
1999 3989 4158
1998 3887 4147
1997 3816 4255
1996 3839 4159
2.42 There was, indeed, a sharp drop in applications in 2002, of around 14 per cent, which translated into a subsequent 4 per cent drop in numbers entering mathematics degrees. However, in 2003 the number of applications has increased back to around the 2001 level and, perhaps surprisingly, the number of entries to degree courses actually increased significantly to one of the highest levels for a decade, although we note that this still only represents a return to the level of the mid–1990s. The figures for 2003 have only become available as this Inquiry was completing its work. We have therefore had no opportunity to investigate the rather volatile movements in numbers over the past couple of years. Some respondents to the Inquiry have suggested that this sudden increase may be explained by internal funding issues within HEIs linked to student recruitment problems in some mathematics departments. This may have led to changed (ie a lowering of) entry requirements in some institutions. The Inquiry has not been able to follow up on this suggestion, but we suggest that it would be valuable for someone to investigate further these patterns of applications and acceptances. We suggest that the Committee of Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences in Higher Education (HoDMS) might undertake such an investigation, perhaps in conjunction with the Council for the Mathematical Sciences.

Teacher recruitment

2.43 Evidence to the Inquiry from the TTA shows that, in recent years, newly qualified teachers have made up 45 per cent of the total inflow of all teachers into the secondary maintained sector. Overall, in secondary schools in 2001 there was a staffing inflow of 9 per cent and an outflow of 8 per cent. This fine balance between inflow and outflow makes it essential to ensure that a good supply of newly qualified teachers is maintained and therefore that able and committed trainees are recruited to fill all allocated training places. We are aware that the DfES is currently consulting on proposals for reform of ITT in FE, following a critical review by Ofsted. We urge that careful consideration is given to ensuring that, where appropriate, the recommendations we make in this chapter are also implemented in that context.
2.44 Teachers working in maintained schools in England normally hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is usually obtained through completing ITT. There are three main routes for achieving QTS:
  • as part of an undergraduate degree BEd, BA or BSc (mostly used for primary school teachers);
  • through a postgraduate training course, often combined with study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE);
  • for trainees via employment in schools on the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) or the Registered Teacher Programme (RTP) (for those without a first degree but with two years’ study in higher education).
2.45 Postgraduate trainee teachers in England and Wales on an eligible ITT course receive a £6000 training bursary as a recruitment incentive. The TTA also administers a Secondary Subject Shortage Scheme. An additional £4,000 is available for eligible postgraduates who go on to teach in shortage subjects in England4, and some further training awards are available to secondary school teacher trainees in shortage subjects based on financial need5. Some of these incentives are also available in Wales. The following table (Table 2.9) shows the kinds of routes and financial provision available to potential mathematics teachers.

Table 2.9: A summary of current training routes

Route Time Training bursary
Undergraduate routes
BA with QTS or BSc with QTS
1 term – 1 year (QTS)
Postgraduate routes
Postgraduate Certificate
in Education (PGCE)
1 year full-time.
Part-time varies
PGCE (flexible) 10 weeks – 2 years £6,000 max
PGCE (2-year) 2 years £6,000 in final year only
Fast track 1 year enhanced PGCE with extended development in school £6,000 + additional £5,000
Employment based routes
Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP)
1 term – 1 year £13,266 salary
Registered Teacher Programme (RTP) 1 – 2 years £13,266 salary
Overseas Trained Teachers Programme (OTTP) Up to 1 year £13,266 salary

Undergraduate routes

2.46 The Inquiry notes that undergraduate teacher training courses are now of declining importance as a route for training secondary mathematics teachers (Figure 2.7 below).
Figure 2.7: Number of new undergraduate trainees in secondary mathematics since 1998/99

Mainstream PGCE recruitment

2.47 The mainstream ITT PGCE courses continue to be the most important route, with improved recruitment in recent years as shown in Figure 2.8. In 2003/04 95 per cent of entrants to secondary mathematics ITT (excluding the employment-based routes) were postgraduates. The Inquiry very much welcomes the increased mathematics teacher training enrolment over the past five years. The postgraduate recruitment in 2002/3 was the highest since 1994/5. However, we are also mindful that the recruitment level is only just recovering to that of 1996/97 (1,653), which itself represented a significant decrease compared to the level of the previous year, 1995/96 (1,795).
Figure 2.8: Number of new postgraduate trainees in secondary mathematics since 1998/99 (including Fast Track)

Flexible PGCE recruitment

2.48 In addition to the standard, usually one-year and full-time, PGCE course, a flexible or modular PGCE has been recently introduced, designed to meet the needs of trainees with commitments that preclude other than a part-time route. The course can be taken over a period of up to two years but may be completed in a shorter time (a minimum of six weeks) by trainees with suitable relevant prior experience. The distinctive feature of courses designated as flexible is that they have variable start and finish points. Over the last three years, the number of flexible mathematics ITT places in England has increased by 23 per cent (from 212 places in 2001/02 to 260 in 2003/04). From September 2003, there will be around 40 HE providers offering such courses.

Employment-based routes

2.49 Employment-based routes are beginning to make a significant contribution to the number of people training to teach mathematics (see Figure 2.9). The Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) is a programme that allows graduates to earn a salary while they train to be a teacher. Since September 2003 GTP has been open to applicants of any age. The GTP enables schools to employ, as supernumeraries, people who do not yet have QTS and train them through an individual training programme leading to QTS. Schools are funded to pay GTP trainees as unqualified teachers, a minimum of £13,266 a year, whilst they are training. The programme is designed for individuals who want to change to a teaching career but need to continue earning while they train. The Registered Teacher Programme (RTP) offers individuals the opportunity to work as an unqualified teacher in a maintained school in England whilst completing the final year of a degree and undertaking teacher training. Individuals who have qualified as a teacher outside the European Economic Area may gain QTS through the Overseas Trained Teacher Programme (OTTP) while working as a teacher. While on the OTTP trainees follow an individualised training programme leading to QTS while working in a school as an unqualified teacher.
Figure 2.9: Number of new entrants to employment based routes training programmes in secondary mathematics since 1997/98
The GTP is the most significant of the employment-based routes. In response to the increases in recruitment through this route, Ministers have agreed to double the size of the GTP by 2005/06. In addition to the GTP numbers, the RTP has contributed 19 new teachers of mathematics and the OTTP has contributed 175. The Inquiry very much welcomes this response and would wish to see further increases if demand for this route continues to grow and quality is assured.

Overall recruitment

2.50 The total annual number of new mathematics trainees from 1998/99 to 2002/3 is shown in Figure 2.10.
Figure 2.10: Number of new trainees to initial teacher training in mathematics (including employment based routes) Since 1998/99
2.51 Factors that the TTA believes have contributed to the increased interest in and subsequent rise in postgraduate recruitment numbers in recent years include:
  • the introduction of training bursaries and ‘golden hellos’;
  • the penalties imposed for under-recruitment;
  • a more vigorous communications and marketing campaign;
  • impressing on ITT providers the importance of recruiting to all the allocated places;
  • a wider range of teacher training opportunities.
2.52 The Inquiry welcomes these recent increases in numbers entering teaching training in mathematics as well as the upward trend in the number of training places available. However, we note that there remains a considerable shortfall in recruitment compared with the training places available. Figure 2.11 below shows the number of mathematics training places available each year from 1990/91 and Figure 2.12 shows the percentage of places filled, the latter clearly reflecting the effects of the economic cycle. The number of ITT places for mathematics in 2003/04 is 2,350.
Figure 2.11: Number of places for mathematics ITT courses in England 1990/ 1 to 2003/04
Figure 2.12: Number of places filled and unfilled for secondary mathematics courses

Comparisons with recruitment in other subjects

2.53 Tables 2.10 and 2.11 indicate the considerable difficulties experienced in recruiting to mathematics teacher training compared with some other subjects. These recruitment figures exclude fast track trainees.

Table 2.10: Places and actual recruitment for Initial Teacher Training in England, 2002/03

Subject Actual recruitment Places Proportion of places filled
Mathematics 1,673 1,940 86 per cent
Science 2,701 2,850 95 per cent
Modern Languages 1,732 2,050 84 per cent
English & drama 2,479 2,350 105 per cent
History 985 950 104 per cent

Table 2.10: Places and actual recruitment for Initial Teacher Training in England, 2003/04

Subject Actual recruitment Places Proportion of places filled
Mathematics 1,951  2,315 84 per cent
Science 2,854 3,225 88 per cent
Modern Languages 1,815 2,050 89 per cent
English & drama 2,440 2,350 104 per cent
History 994 950 105 per cent
Sources: Recruitment – TTA ITT trainee number census, 2003
2.54 Figure 2.13 below shows trends in the percentage of available teacher training places filled in secondary mathematics along with those for English, science and the aggregate over all secondary subjects.
Figure 2.13: Recruitment as a percentage of places in mathematics, English + Drama and science
2.55 The Inquiry notes that, according to figures supplied by the DfES, at present only around 66 per cent of applicants in mathematics make it onto PGCE courses. This compares, for example, with 98 per cent on design and technology, 82 per cent on music and 79 per cent on RE courses. Mathematics has a conversion rate from applicant to trainee that is closer to subjects such as English (53 per cent), where there is a plentiful supply of applicants. This raises the question of whether ways could be found to enable more of the 1,000 applicants who are currently turned away, or withdraw their applications, to become mathematics trainees and eventually teachers. We suggest that the TTA, together with ITT providers might investigate this relatively low conversion rate from mathematics PGCE applicant to trainee.

Comparisons with qualifications of trainee teachers in other subjects

2.56 So far as the academic qualifications of entrants to mathematics teacher training is concerned, over the period 1996/97 to 2001/02, the proportion of mathematics trainees with a 2:1 degree or better remained fairly constant at below 40 per cent, varying between 33 and 38 per cent.
2.57 Figure 2.14 presents comparative data for a range of subjects showing the proportion of recruits to ITT with a degree class of 2:1 or better over the period 1996/97 to 2001/02. The proportions are calculated as a percentage of all first year trainees, including trainees who do not have a UK degree and for whom degree classification is unknown. For modern foreign languages (MFL), the proportion of trainees with non-UK degrees is higher and this goes some way to explain the lower percentage of trainees with a 2:1 or higher in this category. However, we are not aware of a similar mitigating factor for mathematics. We therefore note, with considerable concern, that the proportion of entrants with a 2:1 or higher entrants for mathematics teacher training is the lowest of all the subjects.
Figure 2.14: Percentage of all first year postgraduate trainees with a 2:1 or higher degree classification
2.58 This clearly suggests that teaching is not as attractive to the pool of students who could teach mathematics as it is for potential teachers of many other subjects and that, among entrants to the teaching profession, subject-specific competence may not be so high in mathematics as in many other subjects. This suggests that, in general, many teachers of mathematics may be in more need of subject-specific CPD than teachers in other subjects. We shall return to this issue in Chapters 5 and 6.

Returners to the profession

2.59 SET for Success drew attention to the small but growing number of returners to the science teaching profession, as well as the increase in mature entrants to the profession. Given the relatively small number of graduates in mathematics, late entrants to the teaching profession in these subjects are likely to become increasingly important and the Inquiry was interested to learn of the Government’s “Welcome back bonus” scheme for teachers returning to the profession that existed between Easter and Christmas 2001. Teachers returning in a shortage subject such as mathematics received £1,000 shortly after returning, plus £3,000 around a year later. We understand that there are currently no plans to reintroduce this scheme, but would wish to encourage this to be reconsidered.

Advanced Skills Teachers and Fast Track Schemes

2.60 The Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) grade was introduced in 1998 and offers a new career route with an enhanced salary scale for excellent teachers who do not wish to take up management posts. ASTs continue to work mainly as classroom teachers but also spend time working with teachers in their own and other schools to raise teaching and learning standards. To qualify for an AST post teachers have to pass a rigorous assessment process. Schools receive a grant jointly funded by the DfES and the Local Education Authority to cover the additional cost of creating an AST post. The Inquiry believes that a substantial increase in the number of mathematics ASTs is required, not least to lead on the CPD agenda which we discuss in detail in Chapters 5 and 6 (see Recommendation 2.4 below).
2.61 The DfES has introduced a Fast Track Scheme aimed at improving career progression for individuals with the greatest leadership potential. It aims to identify and develop those teachers who will eventually become an AST, or part of the senior management team of a school. A total of 340 people joined the programme in September 2003 either as trainees or existing teachers and it is planned that numbers will continue to grow to several hundred a year. The long-term aim is for 5 per cent of the teaching profession to be on (or to have been through) the Fast Track programme. Teachers on the Fast Track receive enhanced salaries. New entrants to the programme who come through Fast Track initial teacher training receive an additional spine point on the Main Pay Scale and a £5,000 bursary. All Fast Track teachers receive a Recruitment and Retention allowance (about £2,000) once they have completed their induction year in a maintained school.
2.62 There is a separate fast track scheme for London. Teach First is a general initiative to attract high quality graduates to teach in London. Teach First has attracted investment by industry and commerce and in its first year has attracted a relatively high proportion of mathematics graduates. The Inquiry encourages the TTA and the DfES to monitor and evaluate this and similar schemes and to be prepared, if appropriate, to provide resources to help expand and sustain such initiatives. We would also encourage the LSC to work with the DfES and TTA on these and other issues relating to teacher recruitment (see, also, Recommendation 2.1).
Recommendation 2.4

The Inquiry recommends that the DfES give high priority to encouraging and funding a significant increase in the number of mathematics graduates admitted to the Fast Track Scheme and, in particular, a significant increase in the number of mathematics ASTs.


Incentives and the rise in PGCE applications in mathematics

2.63 Respondents to the Inquiry have expressed the view that Golden Hellos and the introduction of the training bursaries in September 2000 have had a significant effect on PGCE applications. Cumulative applications for mathematics PGCE course are shown below in Figure 2.15.
Figure 2.15: Cumulative number of applications to mathematics PGCE courses in England and Wales since 2000
2.64 The Inquiry welcomes these incentives and believes they are likely to have contributed to the increased number of people on initial teacher training courses. However, the financial inducements have now remained at the same monetary level for three years and need reviewing. We believe it to be important to ensure that the real level of these incentives is at least maintained.

The need to look beyond the pool of mathematics graduates

2.65 The Inquiry has noted with concern the data in Table 2.12 showing that it would require 40 per cent of the current output of UK mathematics graduates to fill all the allocated ITT training places in mathematics. With 2,350 allocated places for mathematics for 2004/05 the pressure to recruit mathematics graduates is significantly greater than in 2000.

Table 2.12: Percentage of mathematics graduates needed to fill allocated mathematics ITT places

Academic year Number of graduates Number of allocated places per cent of graduates required to meet allocation
2002/03 3,380 1,759 52
2001/02 3,375 1,075 52
2000/01 4,235 1,876 44
1999/00 4,060 1,710 42
1998/99 4,214 2,126 50
Source: TTA
2.66 It is clear to the Inquiry that the supply of mathematics graduates applying for ITT will be insufficient to meet the demand for trainee teachers for many years to come. It is important therefore that the TTA and ITT providers work together to try to identify and attract a wider pool of people to recruit from. This includes finding ways of enabling people from a wider degree base to train as teachers of mathematics. Suppose we assume that 40 per cent of students achieving an A-level mathematics pass progress to higher education. Even with the current drop to around 55,000 entries, which is likely to translate to around 40,000 passes, this would imply a future population of close to 16,000 graduates per year (in practice, the percentage progressing to higher education may be even higher than this figure) each with at least an A-level in mathematics. Around 4000 obtain mathematics degrees. There is therefore a potential pool of around 12,000 without a mathematics degree, but with an A-level in mathematics. These include many graduates who may be capable of enhancing their mathematics knowledge to allow them to teach to at least Key Stage 3. At present, those in this group could gain access to courses leading to primary teacher training, but would be unlikely to be able to join a secondary PGCE course in mathematics (see Table 2.1).
2.67 Where a trainee’s previous degree does not cover the spectrum of knowledge required to teach a particular subject, pre- and in-course study courses and subject support courses are available with access to help from specialist tutors. These are currently being evaluated to assess their impact. Some providers offer two-year PGCE courses that provide more time for trainees to develop their subject knowledge. The TTA also has plans to pilot a Pre-Initial Teacher Training Mathematics Enhancement Course from January 2004. This initiative will target graduates from a wider range of non-mathematics degree backgrounds, to develop their knowledge and deepen their understanding of mathematics prior to a PGCE or GTP course. From January 2004, the course will be piloted in two regions each year, for two consecutive years. Each course will have 20 allocated places. A working group of ITT providers, undergraduate course tutors and schoolteachers has developed the course specification for mathematics. Contracts will be awarded to provide enhancement courses as a service to all providers of graduate routes to QTS within the region. Course participants will receive a bursary of £150 a week for the twenty-six weeks of the course. On successful completion of the course participants will progress to available QTS bearing courses of their choice within the region.
2.68 These enhancement courses will be evaluated fully to identify action for DfES, TTA, enhancement course providers and ITT providers and to inform any ministerial decisions about national availability of enhancement courses. The Inquiry believes that the enhancement routes being piloted by the TTA may be of considerable importance in identifying new sources of students for recruitment into mathematics teacher training. This prompts the following recommendation, which we would like to see also taken into account by those responsible for the supply of mathematics teachers in colleges.

More specific certification of mathematics teachers

Recommendation 2.5

The Inquiry recommends that the current TTA enhancement programmes for graduates be evaluated carefully and that additional resources be made available to support and reinforce successful programmes in mathematics. The Inquiry further recommends that the TTA should consider introducing enhancement programmes that offer non-graduate career changers opportunities, including bursaries, to complete graduate mathematics course and secure QTS. The Inquiry recommends that, subject to appropriate quality assurance, the DfES give high priority to providing any extra resources required by the TTA in expanding mathematics enhancement programmes.

2.69 In considering the need to provide enhancement to attract non-mathematics graduates into mathematics teacher training, the Inquiry has been led to consider whether there should just be a single certification scheme for QTS, as at present, or whether instead there should be new routes which make it possible to gain specific certification to teach mathematics up to specific levels; for example, KS3, KS4 and post–16 levels. We believe this could be extremely helpful in ensuring the supply of sufficient numbers of mathematics teachers across all stages of learning and we therefore make the following recommendation.
Recommendation 2.6

The Inquiry recommends that consideration be given to the introduction of new mathematics teacher certification schemes, aimed at increasing the overall supply of teachers appropriately qualified to teach at least some part of the curriculum.


Career Exploration

2.70 The TTA operates a range of programmes to enable prospective applicants to become more informed about teaching and training to teach:
  • The Open Schools programme provides opportunities for people at an early stage of exploring teaching as a career to spend an observation day in school;
  • The Teaching Advocates programme harnesses the enthusiasm of serving teachers to support the TTA in various recruitment activities;
  • The Taster Courses programme aims to provide an in-depth taste of teaching and teacher training. The courses last three days and include one full day in school.
2.71 The Inquiry welcomes the fact that the TTA is now working to ensure that the provision of these services is focussed on the need to improve recruitment to priority subjects. Approximately 10 per cent of those making use of the programmes are people interested in teaching secondary mathematics. Another scheme managed by the TTA is the Student Associates Scheme. This is designed for undergraduates currently uncommitted to a teaching career to enable them to explore the possibility of teaching and give them a taste of life in school. Universities pay a small bursary to the undergraduates for the time they spend in schools. The second stage of the Scheme is only open to those who have the qualifications required for entry into ITT and 40 per cent of the Scheme is targeted at students from secondary shortage areas. It is anticipated that 5,000 undergraduates will participate in the Scheme in the academic year 2003/04. The scheme allows them to build up a portfolio of evidence towards the standards for QTS, with a view to having that evidence taken into account either in relation to the overall time spent on a PGCE course, or in relation to the work required on specific parts of the course.
2.72 Evaluation of the Scheme so far and of the experiences of a sample of 60 students from the academic year 2001/02 has been undertaken. Student reaction to the Scheme has been very positive overall. There is also evidence from training providers that students who had experience of the scheme were better prepared for the PGCE interview process and more confident and better prepared for their first teaching placement. The Inquiry welcomes the introduction of this Scheme and is pleased to note that it has recently been expanded to 5,000 places a year. However, we would like to see more targeted use of the Scheme for mathematics students.
Recommendation 2.7

The Inquiry recommends that a significant number of places in the Student Associate Scheme be earmarked for undergraduates on degree courses in mathematics or courses involving a substantial component of mathematics. We encourage the TTA to work closely with the Committee of the Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences (HoDMS) and others in higher education to continue to raise the level of awareness of the scheme among relevant undergraduates.

2.73 TTA Student Associate Scheme also supports the Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme pioneered by the writer and broadcaster, Simon Singh. The scheme operates across all science, technology and engineering areas, as well as mathematics. This is a further possible route to encouraging students into teaching, as well as providing additional teaching resource in schools. The scheme operates through higher education departments creating an undergraduate module in which undergraduates acquire academic credit for time spent in schools and for acquiring transferable skills in the context of their work in the classroom. There are no financial payments. The scheme began in 2002 with a total of twenty-eight students; this increased to around one hundred students in 2003 and four hundred in 2004. We provide further discussion of this and possible related schemes in paragraphs 6.19-21 and in Recommendations 6.3 and 6.4.

Teachers’ Remuneration

2.74 From 1 September 2002, teachers in maintained secondary schools have been paid on a new six-point salary scale. Once at the top of the scale, they may apply to “cross the threshold” and move to a higher, performance-related pay scale. One of five management allowances may be awarded in addition to pay scale points to teachers on either of these scales, for example to heads of department and other teachers with significant specialised management responsibilities. In addition, any teacher may apply to become an Advanced Skills Teacher and, if successful, will move to a new higher pay scale.
2.75 Schools in theory have considerable freedom over the pay of their teachers. Schools are also able to use recruitment and retention allowances to attract and keep key members of staff. At present, DfES evidence to the Inquiry suggests that around 3 per cent of all teachers receive such an allowance. In relation to the use of this flexibility for teachers of mathematics, the 2001/02 Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools notes that
“Despite the flexibility that schools have to award recruitment and retention allowances to attract high-quality teachers, many, particularly in the primary sector, are reluctant to use them as they regard them as divisive and unfair to existing staff. In secondary schools, use of recruitment and/or incentive allowances to attract and retain staff, especially subject specialists in mathematics and science is, however, increasing.”
2.76 SET for Success regarded the issue of teachers’ remuneration as critically important and recommended that more needs to be done to address pay and other incentives offered to teachers in shortage subjects. The Inquiry strongly endorses this view. There is a shortage of mathematically qualified graduates and schools and colleges are competing with other sectors of the economy. We therefore echo the recommendation made in SET for Success.
Recommendation 2.8

The Inquiry recommends that more must be done to address the issue of pay and other incentives to teachers of mathematics and other shortage subjects (see, also, Recommendation 5.2).

2.77 The Government has recently introduced a pilot scheme (from 2002/03 for three years) under which teachers in shortage subjects will also benefit from having their student loans written-off for them over a period of time. Current proposals would further increase the effective salaries of mathematics teachers, potentially by up to around £1,500 per year for the first ten years. The Inquiry welcomes this further attempt to provide incentives for the recruitment of mathematics teachers. However, we are concerned at the rather hit-and-miss and potentially unfair nature of the incentive, which clearly has no impact on students who, for whatever reason, did not take out loans (including those who may, at some personal cost, have worked to support themselves through university). More fundamentally, we note that the Government’s current HE Bill, which received its second reading on 4 February 2004, proposes radical changes to future fee levels in higher education. The Inquiry believes that the proposed fee changes open up important new opportunities for substantial incentives through fee waivers and loan write-offs. The Inquiry urges the Government to consider how to exploit these opportunities to encourage teacher recruitment in shortage subjects.

A summary of additional comments on teacher supply in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland


2.78 The 2002 General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) survey of teacher recruitment indicated that secondary mathematics posts attract significantly fewer applicants than other subjects. In addition the number of applicants per mathematics post is declining. In Welsh medium schools the situation is worse. Recruitment is likely to be affected by the limited pool of Welsh speaking teachers available. Mathematics and English are the posts most difficult to fill in Welsh secondary maintained schools, despite a low overall teacher vacancy rate of 0.4 per cent. Over ten per cent of mathematics teachers at key stage 4 and above do not have a degree in mathematics or a closely related subject.
2.79 However, there are a number of incentives being provided to both postgraduate and undergraduate trainee teachers. Encouragingly, the number of graduates accepted onto PGCE ITT mathematics courses in Wales has risen by 15 per cent in 2002–03, with a further increase in applicants for courses starting in September 2003.

Northern Ireland

2.80 Responses to the Inquiry from Northern Ireland have expressed the view that mathematics teachers in Northern Ireland are more likely to be qualified mathematicians than their colleagues in England. However, respondents felt that there is a need to ensure the effective professional development of mathematics specialists (see Chapters 5 and 6).
2.81 A recent recruitment survey of all Northern Ireland post-primary schools was conducted by some of Northern Ireland’s Education and Library Board Officers. There was a high response rate of around 89 per cent. So far as full-time posts were concerned, Grammar schools indicated that mathematics is for the most part taught by teachers with appropriate training. Posts are filled on time and without additional inducements. However, around 45 per cent had experienced some form of difficulty with recruitment. Grammar schools also highlighted a lack of teachers qualified to cover Additional Mathematics, AS and A2. Integrated schools met more problems in recruiting full-time mathematics teachers and enhancements were typically used when recruiting Heads of Department. Non-grammar schools found it the most difficult to recruit appropriately qualified mathematics specialists. As a result, schools often have to appoint under-qualified teachers and despite this some posts need to be re-advertised. Enhancements are used both to recruit and to retain teachers. This lack of teachers and appropriate skills are felt to have a negative impact on students. In terms of substitute teacher recruitment, most schools had experienced difficulties. Substitute teachers prove even harder, if not impossible to recruit. Although some schools are able to call on retired teachers for additional cover, there is a concern that this may result in out of date teaching. In outlying areas, such teachers are often simply not available.


2.82 In Scotland, since 2000/01 mathematics teachers have been required to have studied the subject for three years at university. Responses to the Inquiry indicate that although there is no overall shortage of teachers in Scotland, mathematics is among the secondary school subjects in which it is hardest to fill vacancies. The Scottish Executive has developed a three-tier prioritisation system to ensure an adequate supply in all subjects: mathematics is in the first category. However, overall, in November 2003 only 35 posts in mathematics (2 per cent) were vacant and only 10 of those had been vacant for more than three months.
2.83 The teaching workforce in Scotland is ageing, which necessitates an ongoing annual increase in the number of new teachers. This may become a problem. Currently, there are no major shortages, however mathematics is one of the more difficult areas. Scotland is currently among the handful of European countries with a reasonable equilibrium between teacher supply and demand. According to the Scottish Executive national statistics publication Results of Teacher Workforce Planning for 2003–2004, five per cent of the overall workforce joined or re-joined the workforce during 2000–2001, and five per cent left during this time.
2.84 It is the responsibility of Education Authorities and head teachers to deploy staff as effectively as possible to meet local needs. Scotland currently has no plans to make use of HE resources, such as using students as teaching assistants.

1 Shortage of Mathematics Teachers: a report of the survey of secondary mathematics departments carried out in the academic year 2001–2002: Sue Johnston-Wilder, Barbara Allen The Open University, Gillian Thumpston, Heather Cooke National Association of Mathematics Advisers, Margaret Brown, Leone Burton King’s College London. In What Progress? Proceedings of a National Day Conference (Centre for Mathematics Education: The Open University).
2 Willis P (2002) Trained to Teach? London: SHA
3 Roper T (2002) Who is Teaching Secondary Mathematics? In S Johnston-Wilder, Key Stage 3 mathematics teachers: the current situation, initiatives and visions: Proceedings of a National Day Conference 113-128 Milton Keynes: The Open University
4An additional £4,000 is available for eligible postgraduates teaching mathematics, science, English, modern languages, design and technology or ICT in England. It can be claimed by those successfully completing induction within 5 years of the start of the first academic year after gaining Qualified Teacher Status and, within 12 months of completing induction, working in a relevant teaching post in the maintained sector.
5 These awards are for secondary school teacher trainees on undergraduate and postgraduate ITT courses studying one of the following subjects: mathematics, science, modern foreign languages, design and technology, ICT, religious education, music or geography. The maximum payment in any one year is £7,500. These maximum amounts are only awarded in exceptional circumstances and there is no automatic entitlement to any level of payment.

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