Maths teacher training works both ways says Adam Creen

Adam Creen is Head of Maths at Salesian School Chertsey. It’s an 11-18 comprehensive secondary school with 250 students into every new Year 7 cohort and 400 students in the VIth form.

Salesian School

‘I’ve been teaching for 24 years’, Adam says, ‘ and have been lucky enough to be Head of Department here for 16 years.’

‘When I began my career back in 1992 I came straight into maths teaching from doing a maths degree. Sadly there were no Maths Scholars scholarships back then but I did manage to access a small bursary at the time. I spent 8 years working my way up to Head of Department level and I am very happy to be doing this job. I don’t have ambition to take on another role, as being a classroom teacher is what I enjoy the most. My main aim at Salesian is to recruit as many good maths and science teachers as we can. We are, after all, a Teaching School and welcome trainees on placement from other schools in the local area.’

Adam Creen

Adam Creen

‘For me it’s such an exciting time to come into a profession such as teaching. For a start we have a brand new GCSE and 2017 will see the first cohort go through this exam. We are excited to see how that goes. It feels like both GCSE and A level are asking more from students and in some cases the teaching staff as well! If you are looking for a challenge there are plenty here.’

For new Maths GCSE assistance from AQA click here. Other Maths support from Edexcel is here.

‘In the last year or so all the maths department have had great fun revising parts of mathematical knowledge that they haven’t touched for years. Topics such as Venn diagrams, estimating the gradient of a curve, and kinematic equations have been omitted from past specification so we needed to reacquaint ourselves. We really do hope our students have found it more challenging and a great preparation for other subjects as well as A-level.’

‘The Maths A-level has also changed, having remained much the same for 16 years.
We have taken delivery of the new specifications in school but are still finding our way towards delivery. It will definitely be quite different. For a start this new A-level is no longer modular and everything will be examined at the end of two years.’

‘There are some real benefits for recent maths graduates to join the teaching profession right now, because they will be able to share their expertise from their degree course. The reason for this is that some topics that will be in Statistics and Pure Maths have not been A-level topics before. It will be great to share this with all members of maths departments and it will be a great boost for both an NQT and established staff.’

‘Further Maths is also going to be very different because there will be 50% compulsory Further Pure content and also there is a significant change to the range of options in mechanics, statistics, group theory and discrete maths. It will be interesting to see which options students will choose from 8 possibilities. Will they want to follow what teachers think would be most useful for university study? It remains to be seen.’

‘Certainly it’s been a time for much discussion and the MEI has given plenty of resources and help which has been great. In many ways it’s been an opportunity for all of us to ask questions of ourselves and how we teach maths.’

‘That’s what has been so exciting this year. My CPD has been quite different and I’ve had the opportunity to train other teachers, 60 of them in fact. They have come form across Surrey and mostly through the Maths Hubs. Our local maths hub is in Woking.’

‘This Hub, like others, brings together primary and secondary schools. It’s fantastic because it helps to deliver support and networking opportunities to improve maths delivery across all ages. This year I’ve done something different regarding my own CPD by training other teachers, about 60 of them in total from across Surrey.’ 

I’ve had some training myself from the NCETM (National College for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics). I’ve been working on how to be a better trainer which has also helped me to delve deeper into what the new A -level stands for.’

‘I feel privileged and it’s so exciting to work with teachers and help them to brush up A-level skills they thought they’d forgotten and encourage them to be more confident about their own subject knowledge and pedagogy. Obviously some are experts in Mechanics or Statistics but not both.

Therefore up-skilling people who are perfectly good maths teachers and make them more confident in another branch is great.’

‘So, as another academic year comes to an end it’s the perfect time to review the year. Certainly my classes have been great this year. My main focus has been working with exam classes, especially my year 11 who have been working hard for their GCSE and it’s been enormously satisfying to see them knocking every question out of the park just before the exams and showing a real fluency. It’s not just ‘doing exam questions’ but seeing connections between different areas of maths and how they can be used in the future.’

‘I’m already looking forward to next years’ groups. I suppose the only thing I will have to watch in future is not tidying up all the classrooms over the summer. It’s a standing joke within my department but I do like a tidy environment – sad but true!’

‘As we wave goodbye to 2015/16 year I’d like to say that really this is the perfect opportunity to consider teaching mathematics because there’s more of a need than ever before for people who have a real love for the subject to enter the profession.  Subject specialists can show how maths has helped them in both their studies and their career. Maths teachers have a great responsibility to develop the next generation of scientists, programmers, economists (the list goes on…). There are always new things to do: new teachers, students, resources and curricula.

Personally, my mission is to continue to be an expert, so I can offer help and advice from a subject expert standpoint and maintain it this role.

There’s so much support for brand new maths teachers, so, if you are thinking about applying for a Maths Scholars scholarship or entering the profession, it’s your time for sure!’