How Would You Change UK Maths Teaching If You Were In A Position Of Power?

This is an extremely difficult question to answer, and to date there hasn’t been a change to UK maths teaching that hasn’t been controversial. The recent moves towards Shanghai-based mastery have been hailed as miraculous in some schools while being ignored or rejected in others. However, there are undoubtedly issues in mathematics education, and it is important to keep trying new ideas to solve them. Based on my limited experience as a trainee teacher, these are things I would like to see done in the near future:

More research.

Everybody has opinions, particularly about education, and these opinions are inescapably biased by past experiences. The only way that we will every really know what works is by increasing research into schools and feeding the results back to teachers. We have been slowly but surely moving in that direction, but a shove from the DfE would really help teachers become more research informed. 

Richer tasks.

Most people still believe that maths lessons are call and repeat exercises where the teacher recites confusing rules and the class reluctantly parrots. Hopefully nobody reading this still thinks that, but it’s a myth we need to do more to bust. NRICH, (the no longer funded) Underground Mathematics, Inquiry Maths, and a range of other sources offer activities that are fun, engaging, and much more valuable than a page of equations to solve. I am convinced that improved promotion of rich, open tasks could do a lot for the cause and improve the perception of the maths classroom, as well as the lessons themselves. 

More training and support.

The Maths Hubs are great, but they are too few and far between to have the impact on teachers that is needed. CPD is a vital part of being a teacher, but it is expensive to run. Few schools have the room in their budgets to maintain the preferred levels. Thus, more government-organised training would be deeply beneficial to teachers everywhere. 

Money, money, money.

This is boring, but unfortunately needs saying. There is not enough money in the education system, and more needs to be done to turn this around. Maths teachers deserve more, maths departments deserve more, and the students certainly deserve more. 

Share the joy.

Teaching is great. Seriously, teaching is great. So why do so many people need convincing? I would like to see more positive messages about teaching coming from high command so I don’t have to repeatedly justify my excellent career choices.
These are my humble suggestions- so let’s all hope Damian Hinds reads this blog! 

Thanks for reading,

Ben Mansbridge