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 6 - National and Regional Support Infrastructure

Existing and potential providers, networks and initiative
The role of the Numeracy and Key Stage 3 Strategies
The role of Higher Education in supporting Schools and Colleges
The role of Specialist Schools
The role of voluntary initiatives
Support of teachers of adult numeracy
Evaluation and dissemination of research in mathematics education
Remit and responsibilities of the national and regional centres
Funding requirements for the NCETM and the RMCs
The governance of the NCETM and the RMCs
The location and management of the NCETM and the RMCs

Existing and potential providers, networks and initiatives

6.1 Whilst supporting strongly the need for a national support infrastructure for the teaching and learning of mathematics, many respondents have been concerned to point out that such a structure should work with, build on and, wherever appropriate, incorporate existing provision, networks and initiatives. In addition, respondents have drawn attention to the need to promote and encourage greater involvement of key stakeholders who have hitherto not played a central role in supporting teachers of mathematics. Much of this echoes the key requirements laid down by the Secretary of State in March, 2003 (see paragraph 5.56).
6.2 In reviewing existing provision and initiatives and in considering possible models for a national support infrastructure, we have had to consider whether and to what extent we should recommend that existing provision and initiatives should be formally incorporated within a national centre or regional centres. On the one hand, we clearly need greater strategic coordination of certain key established activities, but on the other hand we are aware of the need to allow – and indeed encourage – creative, experimental initiatives. We are also aware that the latter often depend on the energies of committed individuals or groups who typically value their independence, often underwritten initially by charity funding. In what follows, in considering options for the remit of the national and regional centres we shall therefore adopt two different kinds of recommendation, corresponding to two different kinds of role for the national and regional centres in relation to existing or emerging provision and initiatives.
6.3 The first kind of recommendation will identify certain areas as definitely needing to come directly under the auspices of the national or regional centres as a prerequisite for overall coherent strategy and coordination of support for teachers of mathematics. The second will identify areas where, in our view, the centre should have a more indirect role, not seeking any immediate direct control but having the role of a provider of development funding and a monitor and evaluator of the outcomes of initiatives. The aim here should be to identify activities that might eventually be sustained and rolled out across the wider school and college sector under the auspices of the centre.

The role of the Numeracy and Key Stage 3 Strategies

6.4 We consider first the Secretary of State’s requirement that the new infrastructure work to support the National Numeracy Strategy in primary schools and the mathematics strand of the Key Stage 3 Strategy in secondary schools.
6.5 For primary teachers in England, professional development opportunities in mathematics have been provided by the National Numeracy Strategy. This has addressed key areas of the mathematics curriculum and teaching practices and has produced a wealth of materials and guidance for numeracy consultants and teachers. These are widely acknowledged to have strengthened subject knowledge, curriculum provision, planning and teaching. The Strategy supports some 400 numeracy consultants and much of the support and training the Strategy provided to schools is delivered through consultants working in LEAs. The consultants mediate centrally produced training, which is accredited by some HE Institutions by acknowledging the successful completion of this training within their award structures.
6.6 The NNS consultants in each LEA run both nationally provided and locally developed courses. The key core component is a five-day course, which includes both subject content and pedagogy. These have provided at least 5 days of out of school training plus a series of personal classroom visits to more than 100,000 primary teachers. In each LEA, there are further courses targeted at selected schools deemed by the LEA to be most likely to benefit from further support. In addition, there are short courses run specifically for head teachers and school mathematics coordinators. Evidence to the Inquiry, suggests that around 20,000 primary head teachers and a similar number of mathematics coordinators have had opportunities out of school to consider the management of mathematics and the professional support they give their teachers.
6.7 For teachers of mathematics to 11-14 year olds in secondary schools in England, professional development opportunities in mathematics have been provided by the mathematics strand of the KS3 Strategy. This, too, has produced a wealth of material and guidance for Key Stage 3 consultants and teachers. The KS3 consultants in each LEA run both nationally prescribed and locally developed courses that have been delivered to around 4000 teachers of mathematics in secondary schools. A key core component is a four-day course for less experienced teachers of mathematics, which includes both subject content and pedagogy. Another key course is that for heads of mathematics departments in secondary schools, which includes developing skills in leading departments. This has been delivered to around 4,000 secondary heads of department. Recent developments include providing courses on how to organize and stimulate discussion on content and pedagogy in the within-school context of departmental meetings. All schools have been offered training and classroom resource materials to support the development of innovative pedagogic strategies to engage pupils in handling data, ratio and proportion and geometric reasoning. In addition, all schools have received resources and training to improve the teaching of pupils working below expected levels.
6.8 Evidence to the Inquiry suggests that, notwithstanding some reservations, the training provided by the NN and KS3 strategies has generally been well received and has had positive effects on professional development for many teachers of mathematics. The Inquiry has also noted that the KS3 Strategy is currently developing a range of whole-school support initiatives, which are intended to complement subject specific work. The Inquiry is not competent to judge whether such whole-school initiatives will contribute to improvements in mathematics teaching. However, we would be seriously concerned were there to be any move away from at least current levels of resources for mathematics CPD for primary teachers and KS3 teachers of mathematics. Respondents from Northern Ireland have reported that decisions about future work plans, funding and staffing for the NINS have yet to be taken.
6.9 Although these issues are formally outside the remit of the Inquiry, respondents have made clear their obvious concern that ongoing improvements to pre-14 mathematics education are a pre-requisite for future developments and improvements post-14. Also, whilst respondents have acknowledged the very real positive impact of the strategies, there is a clear view that much still remains to be done. For example, respondents have noted that in a survey in 2001 of teachers of mathematics in the Key Stage 3 pilot schools, it was found that nearly 50 percent of KS3 mathematics classes were being taught by non-specialists. The Inquiry also notes that the total of 4000 teachers thus far involved in the KS3 strategy represents an average of less than one mathematics teacher per secondary school. We shall discuss the issue of taking forward the work of the strategies later in this chapter. Meanwhile, we make the following clear recommendation.
Recommendation 6.1

The Inquiry recommends that the work of the National Numeracy Strategy and the mathematics strand of the KS3 Strategy be continued and built upon, and that resources for mathematics are ring-fenced for any future form of successor to these strategies for KS1-3.

6.10 Many with experience of the strategies in England have pointed out to the Inquiry that the network of local consultants in place to support the strategies itself already provides an important existing infrastructure for the future support of primary and KS3 initiatives or their successors. There is a strong consensus that this should be further strengthened and exploited in developing the national infrastructure. Respondents to the Inquiry on behalf of the strategies have themselves also indicated a desire for close working with any new national infrastructure. The Inquiry has therefore considered carefully how best this might be done.
6.11 As indicated in Recommendation 6.1, the Inquiry believes it to be essential that there be ring-fenced funding for the numeracy and mathematics components of the primary and Key Stage 3 strategies. Assuming the continuation of funding, one option would be to continue with the current stand-alone managerial and organizational arrangements for the strategies. These seem to have worked well in delivering the strategies to date. However, a number of respondents have argued that this would be a mistake and a missed opportunity to begin to get a coherent overall strategy for CPD, linking mathematics education across all ages.
6.12 We note first that respondents have stressed the need in any case for the existing strategies themselves to be reviewed and refreshed in the near future and that it would be timely to undertake such a review in the light of the post-14 Inquiry report. In particular, it has been pointed out that within a few years there will almost certainly be significant curriculum changes post- 14 and that these will necessarily have a significant impact on KS3 CPD needs. Incorporating the KS3 strategy into the new infrastructure is therefore seen as a prerequisite for developing a coherent approach to providing teachers with mathematics CPD throughout the secondary school.
6.13 More fundamentally, respondents to the Inquiry have overwhelmingly drawn attention to what they perceive to be a current lack of a forum for joined up thinking about school mathematical teaching and learning across the entire age spectrum – from primary schools through to higher education. Although outside the formal remit of this Inquiry, we have been very surprised to learn how little historical local contact and joint working there has been in relation to mathematics teaching and learning at the primary/secondary interface and at the secondary/FE/HE interface. Most of the initiatives we have encountered have only been undertaken in the past couple of years. The Inquiry is convinced that incorporating the existing strategies into the new infrastructure would greatly facilitate coherent thinking in relation to transitions between stages within schools and colleges and from schools and colleges to higher education.
6.14 Also, in relation to CPD provision for teachers in secondary schools, respondents have drawn attention to the fact that within schools there is for the most part no sharp divide between KS3 and post-14 teaching at the individual teacher level. Indeed, some respondents to the Inquiry have indicated that changes to teaching and learning in KS3 promoted by the Strategy have already begun to permeate KS4 and college teaching. Coherent provision of ongoing CPD for the individual teacher therefore clearly requires there to be no unnecessary demarcation in the planning and delivery of “preand post-14” CPD.
6.15 The Inquiry believes that, providing care is taken to preserve the good local working relationships that currently exist, there would be considerable advantages in incorporating both the existing strategies into the new national support infrastructure. In the case of the KS3 Strategy, we believe the case to be overwhelming. For there to be coherent planning and delivery of CPD for mathematics teachers within secondary schools and colleges, we believe it to be essential that the mathematics strand of the KS3 Strategy be incorporated into the national support infrastructure.
Recommendation 6.2

The Inquiry recommends that the existing mathematics strand of the KS3 Strategy be incorporated into the national support infrastructure and that the existing funding for this strategy be brought under the auspices of the infrastructure. The Inquiry also recommends that serious consideration be given to similarly incorporating the National Numeracy Strategy. The Inquiry further recommends that, on incorporation, a review of the content and delivery of the strategies be carried out under the auspices of the new infrastructure.

6.16 With respect to Northern Ireland, the Inquiry notes that were there to be a local component of the national support infrastructure, the relationship with CASS and the NINS (or any successor strategy) would have to be worked out locally in Northern Ireland.

The role of Higher Education in supporting Schools and Colleges

6.17 The acknowledged problem of professional isolation amongst teachers is also seen as a key issue that must be addressed. An important function of the constituent consortia is therefore seen to be that of bringing together into local networks practitioners from different areas of the profession of mathematics. In particular, respondents from both the schools and FE sectors have drawn attention to the need to stimulate greater interaction between HE mathematics and school and college mathematics, in part at least to encourage students at schools and colleges to become the next generation of mathematics teachers, graduate students and academics. We therefore next consider the Secretary of State’s requirement (paragraph 5.56) that the new infrastructure link schools, colleges and universities to create strong subject specialist networks.
6.18 Schools of Education in HEIs do, of course, work closely with schools. However, the Inquiry notes with concern that – with some notable exceptions – there is relatively little current, systematic interaction between mathematics departments in HEIs and schools and colleges. There also appears to be little interaction in some instances between mathematics departments and schools of education within individual HEIs.
6.19 This state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. The Inquiry believes that there should be closer working between all HE mathematics departments, schools of education and their local schools and colleges. The Inquiry believes that this would open up a number of opportunities for higher education to provide significant new and sustainable support for local teachers of mathematics by:
  • enhancing pupils’ and teachers’ mathematical attainment, through individual mentoring;
  • increasing pupils’ and teachers’ awareness of the extraordinary range of applications of mathematics and the many career opportunities opened up by the study of mathematics;
  • encouraging pupils to consider the possibility of a mathematics teaching career.
6.20 Within their own institutions, staff in university mathematics departments, and in other disciplines with a high mathematical content, are well placed to contribute by:
  • encouraging school student participation in mathematics enhancement – eg by providing master classes;
  • encouraging undergraduates to consider teaching as a valued and rewarding career, including practical opportunities to obtain some classroom teaching experience – eg through Ambassadors, Student Associate and other mentoring schemes (see Chapter 2);
  • where appropriate, supporting ITT in partnership with Schools of Education;
  • supporting teachers through mentoring and supervising advanced degrees;
  • ensuring that teachers are well-informed about developments in mathematics research and applications.
6.21 In addition to the Ambassadors, Student Associate and other mentoring schemes for those contemplating a teaching career, the Inquiry believes that the general population of HE students in disciplines with a high mathematical content provides a potential pool of skilled teaching assistants to support teachers of mathematics in schools and colleges. The Inquiry would wish therefore to add support to Recommendation 2.8 of the SET for Success report.
Recommendation 6.3

The Inquiry recommends that a programme be established to pay selected volunteer undergraduate and postgraduate students in disciplines with high mathematical content to support teachers of mathematics in schools and colleges. Payment should be on a competitive basis with other sources of employment open to such students. The precise nature of the support role should be for schools, colleges and universities to decide locally. (See also Recommendation 6.14, ninth bullet point.) It will be important to ensure that those participating have the appropriate skills and training.

6.22 The Inquiry has also noted the potential for greater involvement of the HE Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research Network, part of the HE Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN). The primary focus of the LTSN is teaching innovation and quality in Higher Education throughout the UK, and the LTSN is currently in the process of being incorporated into The Higher Education Academy, a new body committed to the enhancement of the quality and status of teaching in HE. University departments involved in both the Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research and the Engineering LTSNs seek to develop effective approaches to mathematics teaching for mathematics students and students of mathematics in other disciplines, and to share best practice.
6.23 The work of the LTSNs is primarily directed to teaching and learning within higher education. However, the Inquiry has noted with considerable interest that the network also provides significant support materials at the school/university interface. Current outreach activities of the network at the school/university interface include involvement with A-level students through the MEI Further Mathematics Project (see later paragraph 6.44) and involvement with school-based statistics activities through the Royal Statistical Society’s Centre for Statistical Education. Through this latter organization, the network has, for example, created Key Stage 2, Key Stage 4 and A-level resources for pupils, produced teacher CPD training material and delivered training through short courses.
6.24 In Scotland, the Network’s Assessment Consultant has played a leading role in SCHOLAR, an initiative that provides online educational materials and experiences in the form of a “virtual college” with a strong mathematics component. Materials include simulations, animations, interactive tutorials and online discussion groups. SCHOLAR aims to ease the transition from secondary school to further and higher education and to assist more self-directed learning.

The role of ICT in support of the teaching and learning of mathematics

6.25 The Inquiry has noted with great interest that members of the LTSN Mathematics, Statistics and Operation Research Network also have considerable experience in the electronic delivery of materials aimed at enhancing learning and teaching in mathematics and statistics. This is an area requiring much more detailed consideration in the school and college context. The Inquiry has not been able to identify any clear audit of the current availability and use of ICT delivered learning and teaching resources in support of mathematics teaching.
6.26 However, many respondents to the Inquiry have impressed on us that not all mathematics classrooms in secondary schools and FE colleges in England have even the basic resources for handling a significantly greater expansion of the use of ICT. In particular, we have been informed that many mathematics departments in secondary schools do not have an interactive whiteboard, or sufficient access to rooms with sufficient computers and software for whole class lessons, or an up to date, functioning set of graphical calculators for the whole class.
6.27 The Inquiry believes that there are important tasks here for the new national infrastructure. First, there is a need to understand the current position with regard to the availability of ICT resources for mathematics teaching. Secondly, there is a need to encourage appropriate use of currently available ICT resources, ranging from better exploitation of videoconferencing facilities, through to newer developments with the web and interactive and hand-held technologies. Thirdly, there is a need to identify high quality software.
6.28 In Northern Ireland, there are significant ICT investments being undertaken under the auspices of the C2K (Classroom 2000) initiative. In relation to Recommendation 6.4, we therefore note that any local component of the national support infrastructure in Northern Ireland would need to liaise closely with existing or future C2K developments.
Recommendation 6.4

The Inquiry recommends that the remit of the new national support infrastructure include responsibility for auditing existing ICT provision for mathematics in schools and colleges, assessing the need and potential for future ICT provision in support of the teaching and learning of mathematics and advising the DfES and the LSC on ICT investment requirements for mathematics in schools and colleges.

6.29 Within the higher education sector in the UK, there is already considerable specialist expertise in the LSTNs in relation to videoconferencing activities and the use of ICT tools for mathematics communication and teaching and learning. The Inquiry believes that ways should be found of extending and sharing this expertise, through greater involvement of the LTSN with schools and colleges. The LTSN Mathematics, Statistics and Operation Research Network have indicated that they would very much welcome this opportunity, provided that appropriate resources were made available.
6.30 More generally, the Inquiry believes it to be vital that universities should be more actively engaged in interacting with and supporting mathematics teachers in schools and colleges. In particular, they should be actively engaged with consortia at national and local levels. The national infrastructure should encourage this and provide pump-priming resources to underpin the development of cooperative working between schools, colleges and HE throughout the system.
Recommendation 6.5

The Inquiry recommends that the national support infrastructure provide appropriate resources to enable the Committee of Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences in HEIs in the UK (HoDoMS) to work together with the LTSN Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research Network to seek ways to promote sustainable closer links between HEI mathematics (and other relevant) departments and mathematics teachers in their local schools and colleges.

The potential role of the Open University (OU)

6.31 Many universities already play a significant role in the provision of CPD, networking and other forms of reach-out to schools and the wider community and we greatly welcome this. However, we have not been able to undertake a survey of all such initiatives and it would therefore be invidious for the Inquiry to single out specific institutions for special mention. However, we feel it appropriate to draw attention to the particular role and track record of the OU as evidence that elements of the structure and roles envisaged for the national support infrastructure can be made to work effectively. The OU has the organizational experience of being both a national education provider and also running its own significant regional and local support infrastructure. The latter works closely with the local delivery of the NN and KS3 strategies and with a wide range of schools networks and other partners.
6.32 One of the Secretary of State’s requirements for the new infrastructure is that it should cover all ages from pre-school, through universities and adult learning. The Inquiry notes that the OU has experience of provision of mathematics education across all ages from pre-school, through universities to adult learning, including specialist postgraduate courses for mathematics teachers. It has a national presence in the early learning years area through its Faculty of Education and Language Studies (FELS) and a national presence throughout the schools curriculum via FELS and its Centre for Mathematics Education (CME). In addition, it has a considerable track record of mathematics teaching at a distance for mature undergraduates and adults who study part-time. Over the past 25 years, some 70,000 students have passed through the equivalent of a foundation course in mathematics at the OU and many practising teachers of mathematics have studied for Masters Degrees.
Recommendation 6.6

The Inquiry recommends that in the detailed planning of the national support infrastructure for the teaching and learning of mathematics particular attention should be given to involving the relevant experience and expertise of the Open University.

The role of Specialist Schools

6.33 A recent development in England relating directly to subject matter support and networking in the school system is the government’s specialist schools initiative. As part of its general strategy for providing subject matter support in schools, the Government is committed to creating ‘a new specialist system where every school has its own specialist ethos and works with others to spread best practice and raise standards’ (Secretary of State for Education and Skills, A New Specialist System, 2003). One of the Secretary of State’s requirements for the new infrastructure for the support of teachers of mathematics is that it link with specialist schools and through them, with their local partner schools, and universities to create strong subject specialist networks.
6.34 There are currently around 80 Mathematics and Computing specialist schools. Each school applying for specialist status produces a four-year development plan that addresses the needs of the school, its family of schools and its community. The plan is framed around objectives which focus on:
  • improving standards of attainment in the specialist subjects and on using the specialism as a lever to achieve whole school improvement;
  • enriching pupils’ learning experiences and provision in the specialist subjects, through enhanced links with business; supporting curriculum development and provision of appropriate courses;
  • encouraging increased take up in the specialist subjects, especially post-16.
6.35 A school’s community development plan is based on work with at least five partner schools (primary and secondary) and the wider local community. This will include activities planned across the transition from KS2 to KS3 and from KS4 to post-16 education, for example with Colleges of FE and Sixth Form Colleges in discussion with the local Learning and Skills Council. A key feature of specialist schools is their commitment to developing and sharing best practice through continuing professional development of their own staff and local colleagues. Developments arising from this initiative are being taken forward through a network provided by the Specialist Schools Trust. In support of this network, the Trust runs a programme of conferences, seminars, workshops and individual visits as part of its core function.
6.36 Many specialist schools have written into their plans the creation of an AST post in mathematics to support effective teaching and learning strategies. The Specialist Schools Trust is seeking to coordinate and develop the subject and subject pedagogy leadership potential of ASTs and Leading Teachers, by setting up lead practitioner networks to support subject and regional teams.
6.37 The DfES has provided some funding to enable the Trust to establish a series of regional lead practitioner networks in subject specialisms, including mathematics. In Spring 2003, the Specialist Schools Trust organised and ran 16 regional workshops for teachers of mathematics in the Trust’s affiliated schools. Building on the experience of these regional events, the Trust is establishing a CPD programme for teachers via a network of regional and local centres, based around a taskforce of lead practitioners and a network of ASTs in mathematics.
6.38 The Secretary of State referred explicitly to the need for the national support infrastructure for teachers of mathematics to link with networks arising from this initiative. The Inquiry has therefore considered carefully how the Special Schools Trust’s emerging CPD programme and networks should relate to the national support infrastructure.
6.39 On the one hand, we are aware that this is a very recent initiative, most of whose activities are at a very preliminary stage of implementation and trialling. We are also mindful of the clear view of respondents that the support infrastructure should be a consortia-based network, rather than based on a single body or around a single initiative. The Inquiry is therefore clear that it would be inappropriate at this stage to assign too central a role to these developments. On the other hand, it would clearly be perverse for the development of the work of the mathematics support strand of the specialist schools to proceed outside the national infrastructure framework. The Inquiry believes that the emerging special schools mathematics networks and the other work of the Specialist Schools Trust have the potential to provide a valuable resource and focus for supporting teachers of mathematics in both secondary schools and colleges.
6.40 We believe therefore that, where appropriate, those involved in the piloting and development of specific aspects of these initiatives – as with other initiatives undertaken by other stakeholders – should be able to bid for support from the national and regional centres (see Recommendation 6.7). However, given the key role the Government intends the specialist schools to play in relation to specific subject matter support, the Inquiry is clear that those aspects of CPD and other developments which are intended to provide an ongoing core element of the support of teachers of mathematics must be brought under the overall strategic direction and coordination of the national and regional centres, and be subject to inputs and guidance from a wide range of stakeholders.
Recommendation 6.7

The Inquiry recommends that overall strategy for and coordination of the networking and other CPD developments relating to the mathematics elements of specialist schools be brought under the auspices of the national support infrastructure for the teaching and learning of mathematics.

The role of voluntary initiatives

6.41 Outside the framework of large-scale developments imposed across the school and college system, the UK has a tradition of independent small-scale voluntary initiatives to support particular aspects of the teaching and learning of mathematics. The Inquiry has not attempted a survey of all such initiatives and is certainly not able to judge their relative contributions and impact. However, in order to indicate how we think their relation with the national and regional centres might typically be handled, we shall briefly describe six such initiatives, selected to illustrate six rather different aims and approaches to improving and enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics.
6.42 The UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT) is an independent body established, in its own words, “to advance the education of children and young people in mathematics and in particular by organising and running mathematical competitions.” It runs annual Mathematics Challenges at junior, intermediate and senior levels and organises the British Mathematical Olympiad, including selective training and mentoring activities. The UKMT is responsible for selecting and training the British team for the International Mathematical Olympiad. Currently, over half a million secondary pupils and most secondary schools in the UK participate in the Trust’s range of competitions and related activities.
6.43 The Millennium Mathematics Project (MMP) was set up in 1999 as a joint project between the Faculties of Mathematics and Education at the University of Cambridge, bringing together a number of existing outreach activities, which have since been developed and extended, supported by short-term funding from a number of sponsors.
The broad aim of the project is to help people of all ages and abilities share in the excitement of mathematics and understand the enormous range and importance of its applications. This it attempts to do mainly through a programme of enrichment of the standard curriculum. The MMP is active in a number of locations across the UK, both through its web resources and video-conferencing programme and through school visits and face-to-face teacher training and mentoring. The project has worked directly with hundreds of schools all over the UK and its web-based resources are used by thousands more teachers, pupils and parents across the world, with around 25% of users located in the US and significant numbers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore.
6.44 The Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) project ‘Enabling Access to Further Mathematics’ aims to make it possible for all sixth form students to have access to studying Further Mathematics A-level through distance learning, where this is unavailable to them through more traditional means because of lack of resources in their local school or college. The project is in a pilot phase that began in September, 2000, and is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Trust. Students are allocated to an experienced distance tutor who monitors progress and gives individual tutorial support via a combination of e-mail, fax, telephone, visits and where possible on-line video conferencing, which is being developed to enable students to have distance tutorials with tutors at their lead centre. When not tutoring students, the tutors spend some of their time developing web resources. Module ‘study days’ take place at lead centres, enabling students to meet each other and the project staff. In one university involved in the project, second year mathematics undergraduates act as mentors to local sixth formers studying for Further Mathematics qualifications through the project.
6.45 MEI is currently embarking on another project, “Upgrading Mathematics Teachers”. The target group is the very substantial number of non-specialist mathematics teachers teaching mathematics, who are experienced good teachers, committed to the profession, but with rather limited knowledge of the subject. The project – run jointly by MEI and the University of Warwick with funding from the Gatsby Charitable Trust – will provide teachers with a structured course at the end of which the expectation is that they will have the mathematical knowledge and confidence to be able to teach mathematics up to AS and A Level.
6.46 On-line web-based mathematics courses have been pioneered by the Thomas Telford School as a response to the shortage of specialist mathematics teachers in many schools and with the particular aim of raising achievement in mathematics at GCSE. The project is currently funded by the HSBC Education Trust. The GCSE course is designed in a way that enables it to be taught by non-specialist mathematics teachers. The course aims to present mathematics at Key Stage 4 level in a way that motivates and stimulates the learner, by including a number of different categories, such as sport, travel and careers, which give students a context to their study of mathematics. To date, 200 schools have used the Thomas Telford on-line programmes.
6.47 The National Education and Business Partnerships Network is the umbrella organisation and national voice for 138 Education Business Partnerships working in the UK. Within this framework, Number Partners have developed a training scheme and operational practice for bringing cohorts of business volunteers, HE students and community volunteers to work in schools supporting selected students having difficulties with mathematics. This currently works through activities such as board games at KS3. The organisers believe the scheme could easily be extended to encompass activities suitable for students at KS4 level and above. At present, the scheme operates in 38 locations nationwide, with 140 schools hosting 1036 volunteers supporting 2244 pupils.
6.48 It is not within the competence of the Inquiry to provide a serious evaluation of the quality or impact of the particular initiatives described above, or of others we have encountered. However, the Inquiry believes – along with many respondents to the Inquiry – that, prima facie, these and other initiatives do have the potential for significantly enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics in schools and colleges. Some respondents have argued that we suffer from having too many, small scale, uncoordinated, independent initiatives, each competing for limited funding, not systematically evaluated and rarely leading to any sustained embedding of new practice throughout the system. It is argued that it would be better if all these initiatives were now brought together under the auspices of the national and regional centres, in order to provide coordination and, where appropriate, sustainability. We do not support this option. We believe there to be an important role for independent initiatives and believe there to be a danger of stifling creativity and individual energy by insisting on central bureaucratic control of all developments, right from the beginning.
6.49 However, we recognise the point that has been made about embedding and sustainability. We believe, therefore, that we should continue to encourage and welcome independent initiatives but that a way needs to be found to systematically evaluate their impact and subsequently to embed and sustain successful practice throughout the system. Here, we see a natural role for the national and regional centres. The centres should be given responsibility for keeping a watching brief on such initiatives in order to identify those with potential for larger scale implementation. Subsequently, in response to bids for funding from those initiatives seeking to proceed beyond the pilot stage, the national and regional centres should have the remit to undertake formal evaluation, with a view to supporting the systematic roll out of successful initiatives across the school and college system. Large-scale implementation of successful initiatives will, of course, require the commitment of sustained funding and appropriate ongoing management and accountability. Again, we see this as part of the remit of the national and regional centres.
Recommendation 6.8

The Inquiry recommends that the remit of the national infrastructure include responsibility for encouraging and evaluating independent initiatives in the teaching and learning of mathematics and for funding and managing dissemination of successful initiatives more widely across the school and college system. The Inquiry recommends that the overall resources provided for the national and regional centres include specific funding for this purpose.

6.50 The Inquiry has some specific concerns about an existing initiative relating to subject enhancement. SETNET, the Science Engineering and Technology Mathematics Network, is a high-profile existing initiative involving 86 member organisations representing Government, industry, the engineering professional institutions, education and education charities. SETNET aims to stimulate a flow of well-motivated, high quality students from schools who have an interest in, and an understanding of, engineering related subjects. The report SET for Success identified SETNET as the Government’s preferred route for presenting a coherent message to teachers and industry about the schemes and initiatives available to enhance and extend the key curriculum subjects of science, technology and mathematics.
6.51 The Inquiry supports SETNET’s mission to enrich and support the curriculum in schools. However, we are very concerned about the paucity of provision of enrichment resources relevant to mathematics that are currently available nationally through SETNET and the regional delivery SETPOINTS outlets. There is extremely limited provision in mathematics, particularly at secondary level, and we believe that this gap should be filled as soon as possible. The Inquiry also notes that exactly the same problem exists in relation to the provision of material to inform careers teachers and advisers in schools and colleges about the all-pervasive applicability of mathematics and the career opportunities opened up by the study of mathematics. The Inquiry has received a great deal of worrying comment from respondents about the lack of availability of informed careers advice in schools and colleges about mathematics and the study of mathematics. We believe that this issue should be given high priority.
Recommendation 6.9

The Inquiry recommends that the national infrastructure work with SETNET to improve the provision of mathematics enrichment and careers advice resources provided through SETNET and that appropriate funding be made available either through SETNET or the national infrastructure to support this development.

Support of teachers of adult numeracy

6.52 Among the Secretary of State’s requirements for the new infrastructure is that it should support adult learning. In this connection, respondents to the Inquiry have indicated that, in the context of the Government’s Skills for Life strategy, teachers of adult numeracy in adult education institutes and in the workplace and non-specialist teachers of mathematics and numeracy to adults in further education would particularly welcome support from the new infrastructure.
6.53 The Inquiry believes that, in order to understand how best to provide this support, the new infrastructure will need to collaborate with researchers and practitioners with special experience and expertise in the area of adult education. The Inquiry believes that the key body will be the DfES funded National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy (NRDC), which is a consortium of partners led by the University of London Institute of Education. Adult numeracy is a particular focus of the NRDC’s work and, in November 2003, it published its first major report, Adult Numeracy: review of research and related literature.
Recommendation 6.10

The national infrastructure for the support of the teaching and learning of mathematics should set up formal collaborative links with the NRDC, with a view to exploring how best to support teachers of adult numeracy.

Evaluation and dissemination of research in mathematics education

6.54 There is currently considerable research activity in the field of mathematics education, but there is no national forum charged with systematic evaluation and dissemination of national and international research findings in order to provide an appropriate evidence base for policy and practice. The Inquiry believes that such a forum is required.
6.55 One option would be for this to be a stand-alone entity. However, the Inquiry has noted the views of respondents that it is essential that the development of CPD and other support activities for teachers of mathematics should be appropriately informed by relevant research findings. We therefore see great merit in including in the remit of the new infrastructure responsibility for systematic reviews of research and development findings and materials and ensuring that these inform mathematics CPD and other support developments. The British Society for Research in the Learning of Mathematics provides one possible partner for the national centre in taking this forward. The Inquiry has also noted the recent significant investment by the Economic and Social Research Council in mathematics projects within its Teaching and Learning Research Programme. The Inquiry believes that the new infrastructure will wish to work closely with these and other partners in developing a research and development evaluation and dissemination capacity.
Recommendation 6.11

The Inquiry recommends that the remit of the national infrastructure for the support of the teaching and learning of mathematics include the responsibility and resource for providing a national forum for the evaluation, synthesis and dissemination of research and development findings in the field of mathematics education in order to provide an evidence base to inform policy and practice.

Remit and responsibilities of the national and regional centres

6.56 The Inquiry has considered the option of only establishing a single national centre, directly working with schools through the LEAs, thus obviating the need for regional centres. We have rejected this option on two broad grounds. First, the breadth and depth of the post-16 curriculum far exceed those of the KS1-3 curricula and we do not believe that a local consultant based CPD delivery model similar to those of the Numeracy and KS3 strategies would be appropriate or feasible, given the very wide-ranging CPD needs post-16. Secondly, we have received overwhelming endorsement from respondents to the Inquiry of the need to build and sustain local communities and networks. These should not just be concerned with CPD delivery, but should also serve to bring together a wide range of stakeholders in support of all aspects of the teaching and learning of mathematics and also wider issues of profile raising, awareness and career advice. This led us to Recommendation 5.4, which we now follow up in more detail.
Recommendation 6.12

The Inquiry recommends that the national infrastructure for the support of the teaching and learning of mathematics consist of:

  • a National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to provide expert advice, resources and information in support of the teaching of mathematics, and to oversee the funding for the development and dissemination of mathematics CPD provision at a strategic level and to coordinate its operation nationally;
  • a network of Regional Mathematics Centres (RMCs) to encourage the formation of local communities of teachers of mathematics and relevant stakeholders across all phases and to oversee and coordinate local delivery of CPD.
Recommendation 6.13

The Inquiry recommends that the NCETM should:

  • provide a forum to bring together all major groups and agencies involved in mathematics education, including from England the DfES, National Strategies, QCA, Ofsted, LEAs, HEIs, LSC, SSCs, ACME, ITT providers, together with equivalent groups and agencies from those territories which choose to be part of the NCETM;
  • work with the GTC, TTA and other appropriate groups, including the relevant groups from those territories which choose to be part of the NCETM, to ensure national cohesion in mathematics CPD provision and accreditation;
  • incorporate the current CPD work and funding of the NN and KS3 Strategies;
  • work closely with the RMCs to provide a centre of expertise for research and development and the commissioning and dissemination of CPD and learning and teaching materials, including distance learning materials and materials to enhance the teaching of mathematics through the use of ICT;
  • work closely with the RMCs to ensure an adequate supply of “expert teachers” to provide mentoring and support to local schools and colleges;
  • coordinate and monitor CPD delivery provided by the RMCs;
  • provide a national forum for the evaluation, synthesis and dissemination of research and development findings in the field of mathematics education;
  • provide a database and act as an archive for exemplary teaching and learning and CPD resources and research and development findings;
  • support and encourage the further development and dissemination of existing mathematics enhancement and distance-learning initiatives;
  • foster international links and collaborative exchanges in relation to research and development in mathematics education.
Recommendation 6.14

The Inquiry recommends that the RMCs should:

  • be located one in each of the 9 English regions as defined by RDAs, with possible additional national centres in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland;
  • have formal close working relationships in England with local LEAs and Numeracy and KS3 Strategy regional directors, and with equivalent bodies and individuals from those territories which choose to establish a RMC;
  • provide a forum for school, college, FE and HE local links and joint working;
  • provide a forum for links and joint working among education providers and teachers, and employers, including RDAs, local LSCs, SETNET, Education and Business Partnerships and equivalent territorial agencies;
  • provide support for local networks within the regional networks, building on existing local networks, including mathematics teacher associations, mathematics specialist schools networks, the LTSN for Mathematics, the regional and local activities of the mathematics professional and learned societies, the OU and other HEIs;
  • work with the NCETM to deliver CPD regionally/locally for teachers of mathematics (including those teaching other disciplines or vocational subjects) and those who support mathematics teaching across all age groups;
  • work with the NCETM to provide a regional/local CPD research and development and dissemination capability in mathematics education;
  • provide a regional/local source of expert advice and information on all aspects of the teaching of mathematics;
  • provide infrastructure support for quality assured schemes for bringing HE students into the classroom (see, also, Recommendation 6.3);
  • together with the NCETM, develop and promulgate programmes and projects aimed at raising the profile of mathematics with pupils, teachers, careers advisers, parents, employers and the public.

Funding requirements for the NCETM and the RMCs

6.57 The Inquiry has been asked by the Secretary of State to give an indication of the scale of funding required for the national support infrastructure in England. In terms of the proposed NCETM and RMCs, we shall approach this by comparison with related existing activities. Throughout, we assume that if the existing strategies in England are incorporated into the new infrastructure, existing funding will be made available to the NCETM and RMCs. The discussion that follows therefore refers only to additional funding relating to the new (ie not existing strategy) roles of the NCETM and RMCs in England.
6.58 We note, for example, that as part of the National Network of Science Learning Centres, the proposed National Science Learning Centre (funded by the Wellcome Trust) has a ten year funding horizon, with a total capital contribution of £10M over the first three and a recurrent contribution of £15M over the period. The focus is directed primarily towards subject leaders.
6.59 The proposed 9 Regional Science Learning Centres (funded by the DfES) have a five year funding horizon, with a capital total of £11M over the first three years and a recurrent contribution of £15M over the period.
6.60 The National Numeracy Strategy (for primary school teachers) has been funded at the level of around £100M per annum for each of the past four years. Of this, around £21M has supported consultants and associated administration costs; £10M has funded a leadership programme; and most of the rest has funded training and direct school interventions. The current costing for delivery (not including central costs) is £175 per training day per teacher. In addition, there is a central team responsible for writing training materials, briefing the LEA consultants on the materials and overseeing the local delivery.
6.61 The KS3 Strategy (consisting of 5 subject strands and aimed at teachers of 11-14 year olds) has been funded at the level of £220M per annum. Of this, as direct expenditure on mathematics one can identify about £14M for subject specific expert consultants employed by LEAs; about £14M to schools to access training; and out of the £20M spent on the central management of the strategy (including development of teaching and learning materials and monitoring of the delivery) around £3–4M.
6.62 If currently small-scale pilot projects like the Millenium Mathematics Project, the MEI Further Mathematics project and the Thomas Telford online mathematics course developments are to achieve significant penetration of the school population, they would need significant scaling-up (perhaps by factors of 20). The scaling up of funding would not necessarily be linear, but, for example, we note that the MEI project has been funded at the level of £360K over 3 years by the Gatsby Educational Trust and the cost of producing the on-line GCSE courses by Telford school has been £700K, funded thus far by the HSBC Education Trust.
6.63 The relevant aspects of these comparisons for the envisaged remit of the NCETM are those pertaining to initial set-up (refurbishment and ICT provision), the costs of a central team and overheads and the costs of the production and dissemination of materials for CPD. In what follows, we assume throughout that the funding for actual CPD delivery, teacher release, etc, will be assigned to the budget for the RMCs.
6.64 For the NCETM, in addition to the incorporation of staff from the existing strategies, we envisage the appointment of a (high profile) director, together with an executive core of around 8 senior and 4 support staff (comparable in full time equivalent staff numbers to the Numeracy and KS3 central directing teams). We further envisage that the scale of operation for new post-14 provision over an initial five-year horizon (with a front loading to the first three years) will be at least as great as that of the KS3 operation. This takes into account the greater complexity and diversity of post-14 qualifications and the developing and disseminating of materials to cover all the needs both for CPD aimed at non-specialists and at specialists. It also recognises the potential need for more emphasis on distance delivery to overcome the recognised problem of releasing mathematics teachers from schools and FE Colleges.
6.65 These comparisons suggest that the start-up funding requirements for the NCETM (refurbishment of offices, archive/library, meeting and seminar rooms, ICT, including broad-band and video-conferencing facilities) over and above requirements arising from the incorporation of the existing strategies are likely to be similar to those of the regional science centres, but with an additional premium in recognition of providing a national library/archive; ie around £2.5M for the first year.
6.66 These comparisons also suggest that the recurrent funding required to achieve initial comprehensive coverage of the development and dissemination needs for CPD and the other elements listed above for the remit of the NCETM over a five year time horizon is likely to be of the order of £4.5M recurrent for each of the first three years. Thereafter, recurrent funding of £2M might suffice to sustain a steady-state operation.
6.67 Clearly, these recurrent funding needs can be reduced by extending the time horizon over which it is aimed to achieve complete coverage of initial CPD needs and/or by scaling down the remit of the NCETM. However, the Inquiry believes that this would be unwise. There is considerable urgency in tackling the teaching skills deficit and we are mindful that the Secretary of State has indicated that the centre should serve the needs of teachers of mathematics across the whole spectrum.
Recommendation 6.15

The Inquiry recommends that, in addition to the transfer of funding from the existing strategies, the funding provision for the first five years of the NCETM should be of the order of £7M in year 1, £4.5M in years 2, 3 and £2M in years 4, 5, giving a total of £20M over 5 years.

6.68 For the RMCs, in addition to the staff funded by the existing NN and KS3 strategies, we envisage that each of the nine English RMCs would have a core full time equivalent staff of the order of 2.5 senior and 4 support staff. This suggests something of the order of £400K start-up funding (refurbishment of offices, meeting and seminar rooms, ICT, including broadband and video-conferencing facilities), and 300K annual direct running costs for each RMC.
6.69 The major expenditure in the RMCs will be on CPD delivery. There are currently around 25,000 teachers of mathematics in secondary schools. We have found it impossible to quantify properly the number of teachers of mathematics in FE because mathematics pervades so many aspects of the post-16 curriculum. However, respondents have felt that 10–15,000 teachers of mathematics in FE Colleges is probably a reasonable estimate. In addition, there is some need for mathematics CPD for those teaching mathematics in other disciplines and in vocational courses.
6.70 Suppose, therefore, for the purpose of a baseline calculation, we were to take 25,000 as the (conservative) target population for new CPD provision (assuming that a fraction in secondary schools will continue to receive CPD under the KS3 strategy funding and that CPD funding currently related to the current Key Skills agenda will be available for many in FE – although we understand that currently this funding is not accessed by the majority of mathematics teachers in FE). Suppose further that we were to aim – inadequately in the view of many respondents to the Inquiry – to provide everyone in the cohort with the equivalent of an average of 6 days CPD per annum (not necessarily provided in out-of-school “6 day course” form and probably varying from 0 to 12 days in actual individual CPD need).
6.71 Using the guideline figure of £175 per teacher per day provided by the Numeracy Strategy, this suggests, based on a 6 day per annum assumption, an annual recurrent cost for training of £26.25M (pro rata, just under £3 M per RMC). There will also be an element of RMC recurrent cost for support of other activities within the remit of the RMCs. This is likely to be of the order of £100K per RMC.
Recommendation 6.16

The Inquiry recommends that, in addition to the transfer of funding from the existing strategies, the funding provision for the first five years of the RMCs should be at least of the order of £27M in year 1 and £26.6M in years 2, 3, 4, 5, giving a total of some £133.4M over 5 years.

The governance of the NCETM and the RMCs

6.72 The Inquiry has sought opinions on appropriate governance arrangements for the NCETM and the RMCs. We have received the clear message that the composition of the governing body should reflect the wide range of stakeholders identified during the Inquiry, but should also have a majority of members drawn from bodies representing the mathematics and mathematics teaching communities.
6.73 The Inquiry has identified the following government department and agency key stakeholders in England (these would need to be augmented by equivalent bodies for any territories that choose to be part of the NCETM and choose to establish a RMC):
  • the DfES will clearly play a key role in funding the new infrastructure and will necessarily have a role in overseeing the set up process and subsequent governance of the national and regional centres;
  • the LSC plays a key role in overseeing mathematics teaching in Sixth Form and FE colleges;
  • the QCA currently has the remit to write, develop and keep under review the national curriculum; its role in assessment, curriculum and qualifications development also make its work of key interest to mathematics teachers; QCA has established stakeholder networks and contacts and has pioneered joint working between schools, colleges and HE in developing materials in algebra and geometry;
  • Ofsted is charged with inspection and evaluation of the quality of delivery of teaching in schools and colleges and of ITT provision;
  • the GTC has specific responsibility for providing advice to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on the training, career development and performance measurement of teachers;
  • the TTA is responsible for the recruitment and retention of teachers, funds ITT and uses inspection outcomes to determine which ITT courses are allowed to continue;
  • LEAs, through mathematics specialists, play key roles in relation to local networks and delivery;
  • the NN and KS3 strategies play key roles and we have already made clear (Recommendation 6.2) the Inquiry’s view that the existing strategies should be incorporated into the new infrastructure;
  • relevant departments of HEIs must also become key stakeholders.
6.74 In addition, there are a number of subject associations in mathematics, whose members include many of the most active and innovative members of the teaching and advisory profession in mathematics. These associations are also key stakeholders. The two main associations for school and college teachers are the Mathematics Association (MA) and the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM). The MA individual membership consists almost entirely of secondary school or college teachers of mathematics. The ATM has a larger primary membership, but there are still many more secondary members in ATM than primary teachers. There are also three other associations with teacher/adviser members: the National Association of Mathematics Advisers (NAMA), whose members typically work at LEA level as inspectors, advisers or as consultants for the NN or KS3 strategies; the National Association for Numeracy and Mathematics in Colleges (NANAMIC) and the Association of Mathematics Education Teachers (AMET); these associations also have some members in HEIs.
6.75 There are also key stakeholders among the professional and learned societies representing the various sub-areas of the discipline of mathematics: the London Mathematical Society (LMS), the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS). These bodies operate on a UK-wide basis and the IMA has strong links with representatives of engineering interests in HE and national professional bodies. The Presidents of the four learned and professional bodies together form the Council for Mathematical Sciences, which serves as a policy discussion forum for issues of common concern. In addition, Scotland has the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and the Scottish Mathematics Council. Also, the Education Committee of the Royal Society (RS) has within its UK-wide remit an interest in mathematics education.
6.76 These associations are brought together under the umbrella of the Joint Mathematics Council of the UK (JMC). The Advisory Committee for Mathematics Education (ACME) is a more recently formed body empowered by the constituent bodies of the JMC to speak with authority on behalf of the mathematics community on matters pertaining to mathematics education. Respondents to the Inquiry have argued strongly that ACME should be closely involved in the governance of the national support infrastructure. The Inquiry supports this view and we shall return to this in the context of our detailed recommendation concerning the national infrastructure and its governance (Recommendation 6.17).
6.77 Employers are clearly key stakeholders in the new infrastructure. Recently, it has been decided that the new sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, SEMTA, is to lead on mathematics on behalf of the sector skills councils. SEMTA is currently in the process of establishing a new Mathematics Forum, which will include representatives of relevant awarding bodies, regulatory authorities and government. The role of the Forum will be to provide a means through which employers can help shape future developments of all aspects of the mathematics curriculum, assessment, standards, qualifications and quality assurance. In addition to the national role to be played by SEMTA and the Mathematics Forum in representing employers, at a local level the interests of employers will increasingly be reflected in the work of the RDAs.
Recommendation 6.17

The Inquiry recommends that, following an appropriate process of consultation, as the first step towards the establishment of the centres for England the DfES appoint and provide a secretariat for a council, to be responsible for overall policy and priorities for the NCETM and RMCs within the remit identified in the Inquiry’s Recommendations 6.13 and 6.14. The Inquiry further recommends that the DfES channel funding for the NCETM and the RMCs through the council, which should be accountable to the DfES for its use. The council should represent the wide range of stakeholders we have identified and the Inquiry recommends that over half of the membership should be appointed on the advice of ACME.

The location and management of the NCETM and the RMCs

6.78 The Inquiry has considered carefully the options for selecting the locations and managements of the centres. As we have indicated on several occasions, respondents to the Inquiry overwhelmingly favour consortia-based models for the management of the NCETM and the RMCs. The Inquiry fully supports this view and believes that the selection of locations and managements of the centres should be made on the basis of an open bidding process
Recommendation 6.18

The Inquiry recommends that the locations and managements of the NCETM and the RMCs in England be selected by a process which invites consortia bids to deliver the agendas set out in Recommendations 6.13 and 6.14 and to provide appropriate management and administrative infrastructure for the running of the centres. Consortia will need to incorporate an appropriate range of national and local stakeholders. This bidding process should be overseen by the DfES, advised by the appointed governing council for the NCETM and the RMCs.

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