Exploring the Importance of Maths Scholars Events to Professional Development, with Matt Toogood

I have been lucky enough to have attended nearly all of the Maths Scholars events and they have been excellent on at least three different levels. Firstly, there has been a wonderful range of content from enigma codes to engagement in core maths and from Dam-busters to sundials, with a heathy sprinkling of testing and thought-provoking puzzles. These have not only provided the basis for a growing number of lesson activities, but also provided stimulus for a range of different approaches to various mathematical themes. The speakers have all been experts in their areas and have provided us with relevant, practical, taxing and critically fun challenges.

A second benefit has been the opportunity to meet a large cohort of similarly excited and anxious trainees, all stepping out on a new journey. Being able to share stories and experiences is always beneficial and doing this with a group of motivated and very able young and old students has been both helpful and reassuring. In a very specific personal example, one fellow trainee put me in contact with a researcher who was studying the very topic I had chosen for one of my dissertations – very helpful – and as a busy trainee, you need help from as many places as you can get.

The third level has been the opportunity to visit some fascinating locations - in particular Bletchley Park and the National STEM Centre in York. Bletchley Park proved to be interesting in a number of ways: the history of the centre alone makes the visit worthwhile, but the great mathematics and problem solving and its potential for school trips or projects add significantly to budding mathematics teachers. The STEM centre was also excellent – what a resource. Being a scientist in maths teachers clothing, I found this particularly useful and energising. Whilst celebrating the beauty of “individual subjects”, they demonstrate the value of cross curricular working for teachers and pupils alike. This visit has changed some of my teaching goals.

These events are supplemented by opportunities with a range of associations and societies, all of which offer countless developmental openings, which can be taken depending on your own personal interest and needs.

As a final thought, being part of the maths scholarship group has given us access to a network of future leading maths teachers and so whilst we have already benefitted, we have only just begun. 

Matt Toogood