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Maths teacher recruitment crisis

(29 Posts)
KingFlamingo Mon 16-Apr-18 22:13:57

How is your school finding this?
We need a head of maths and maths teacher and are really struggling. If any, we get one or two applications with anyone but someone with a maths degree or even A Level.
Quite a desirable school in a leafy area but that doesn't seem to attract anyone.
Seems like good maths teachers have become gold dust?

OP’s posts: |
GHGN Tue 17-Apr-18 11:14:45

I don't know about normal comps but for me, grammars and now indie, almost impossible to recuit a decent Maths teacher. I have been quite lucky in the last few years to be able to recuit teachers with Maths degree and be able to teach well. The initial sell is difficult enough, retaining them is a different matter altogether. After a couple of years, a lot of them move on to private or international school. We put lots of effort into training them, get a couple of good years and then constantly have to try to recuit, train and then lose them again.

I was quite frank with SLT that they couldn't treat Maths teachers like other subjects. We found it difficult to recuit Maths teachers so we made the working conditions better, more suitable for Maths. A lot of policies were tailored made to Maths such as marking, setting homework etc. Individualised training with focus on subject knowledge was another thing so they didn't have to sit through INSET when a humanity teacher told them how to teach a lesson. We made that very clear in the advert and were willing to pay more if we had to. Howver, the initial sell was good enough that we had teachers with Maths degree and could teach well on M1. Looking back, I think by giving them M3 or M4 after one or two years or a small TLR would have given us a better chance to retain them.

noblegiraffe Tue 17-Apr-18 20:53:02

We have a large source of NQTs nearby so things aren’t dire but are getting harder as the number of local vacancies increases. Recruiting promoted positions is difficult.

We haven’t managed to keep an NQT for longer than 2 years for ages though, retention is a huge issue. We’ve lost other, more experienced teachers too, at a much higher rate than previously. Some have retired early, some gone private/international and some have quit teaching.

No special efforts to retain maths teachers in my school. It’s quite astonishing really, SLT seem to think good maths teachers grow on trees.

Phineyj Wed 18-Apr-18 21:39:40

There is definitely strong competition from overseas in a way that didn't use to be the case. I teach Economics and even though I'm not looking for work overseas, every time I go onto LinkedIn people are trying to convince me to relocate to China or the Middle East.

noblegiraffe Thu 19-Apr-18 11:09:15

I’m disappointed there aren’t more responses to this thread, I want to hear more about how other schools are giving maths teachers golden thrones to sit on just to get them into their schools.

PianoCat Thu 19-Apr-18 11:13:45

Many mathematicians may be put off pgces by the need to do lots of writing and essays. Good mathematicians don't need to or want to write essays. There should be a maths specific teacher training.

noblegiraffe Thu 19-Apr-18 11:18:10

Maths teachers need to know about educational issues.

The secondary teacher needs to be a dual expert, in both their subject and the art of pedagogy.

It’s entirely reasonable to expect a student maths teacher to write an essay.

PianoCat Thu 19-Apr-18 12:26:44

Only responding to what might be putting matheticians off, including me - most maths degrees do not require any essay writing. It doesn't mean we can't write a coherent report or learn how to teach well it just means we don't necessarily want to be judged on essay skills just like I wouldn't expect someone going to teach history to be judged on their ability to teach based on whether they are able to solve a differential equation or know how to state and prove a theorem.

Pixel99 Thu 19-Apr-18 12:35:15

My STBXH is a maths teacher and has just secured a new job (he was worried he wouldn't as he had been made redundant!). He is a good teacher.....just a lousy husband!

MaybeDoctor Thu 19-Apr-18 12:39:08

There is that extra-training programme to convert other teachers with QTS to become maths teachers?

SocksRock Thu 19-Apr-18 12:41:28

I am considering a career change to teaching maths, but I don’t have a maths degree - I have a civil engineering degree and 20 years of industry experience as a women in STEM. Is there a scheme for “late starters”? I thought there was one but it might have changed. And also, I don’t know if I would be suitable to teach maths.

Piggywaspushed Thu 19-Apr-18 12:47:21

I assume socks that you have A level maths? Your degree would most likely be seen as maths related , too. Don't forget Carol Vorderman's degree is engineering!

The scheme for late starters you might be thinking of is Teach Now - but that has its issues and is mainly London based. You can do a PGCE/ SCITT/ any conventional route, age and background regardless.

Our head of maths has a law degree !

Whether you would be suitable to teach maths (pretty sure they would welcome you with open arms) is a different question form whether you would suit teaching (or it would suit you!) . You need to get into schools for some work experience to find that bit out .

Piggywaspushed Thu 19-Apr-18 12:51:36

piano : training to be a maths teacher is maths specific . I am a bit confused that you think it isn't!

The learning about teaching is not rocket science (excuse the pun) and any student should reasonably expect to be bale to understand and apply educational ideas, and to read and write about them. This si not usually long, extended essays anyway : more like evidence files and presentations these days.

Mathematicians are not illiterate : noble is one of the most articulate teacher posters on Mumsnet!

That said, I wrote my DH's job applications and essays for him (yes, I know...) when he was training with me. Then he sulked when he was told 'his' essay was not that great. Haha!

MsAwesomeDragon Thu 19-Apr-18 12:55:11

My school doesn't seem to treat maths teachers like gold (Ha! As if!). If anything SLT don't seem to like us confused

Last time we had a vacancy (2 years ago) we had 3 applicants, none of whom had a Maths degree, all were NQTs, 2 were primary trained. We appointed one of the primary trained NQTs. She's lovely, but understandably does not want to teach A level, she's a bit nervous about teaching higher GCSE.

In terms of retaining our Maths teachers, we all just stay because this is where our base is, we don't want to leave because there aren't many other job opportunities in the same area (although it's a beautiful area of the country). Our school have made redundancies last year due to lack of funding and falling rolls in our area. One of those redundancies was a Maths teacher with over 20 years experience, because she volunteered for it. There was no effort at all put in to persuading her to stay, even though her experience was invaluable.

We're quite spoiled in our school though, because we have a full department of Maths teachers who are all good at teaching Maths (even though 2 members of the department are Primary trained rather than secondary), and I think SLT forget that we're very lucky like that.

Piggywaspushed Thu 19-Apr-18 13:05:33

I think we are lucky, too. We have trained a few maths teachers, who have stayed on with us , and the department is strong . A subject leader is leaving and was replaced through local connections. We never seem in crisis . English has actually struggled more. we just seem to appoint anyone who is vaguely friends with someone else.

On the other hand, MFL has been in constant crisis and there are no applicants to replace the retiring HoF.

Tanaqui Thu 19-Apr-18 13:17:35

Tbh, I think round here it is simply a pay issue. If you are in a ££ area to live, and you can do maths or science, there is a lot more money to be made in other careers. Not quite as much if your degree is humanities or social sciences! The London weighting doesn’t apply here, but house prices and cost of living are way up there.

SocksRock Thu 19-Apr-18 17:09:31

I have maths and further maths A Levels, both grade A. SCITT would seem to be what I need, as I can’t afford a year to study full time on a PGCE. Will look into it further.

I also did three years of Engineering Maths at Uni, so hopefully that would cover some of it!

noblegiraffe Thu 19-Apr-18 17:34:00

can’t afford a year to study full time on a PGCE.

£20k maths bursary for PGCE students, plus £10k retention bonus.

noblegiraffe Thu 19-Apr-18 17:38:49

just means we don't necessarily want to be judged on essay skills

You’re not. You’re judged on your teaching skills. The bar for passing the essays (I did 3 over a year) was pretty low. They desperately want people to be maths teachers, they’re not going to fail anyone because they’re a bit crap at essays.

Malbecfan Thu 19-Apr-18 17:56:47

@SocksRock Our Head of Maths has a degree in Engineering too, rather than Maths. He teaches Maths, Further Maths and STEP pretty successfully. From what my DDs and DH have told me, Engineers have to have decent Maths skills, well over and above A levels. However, they also have to be able to apply those skills to real situations. DH reckons that Engineering graduates should make excellent Maths teachers.

One issue for me is that a friend who graduated with an excellent Maths degree went into accountancy, and lots of others go to the City because of the money, rather than into Maths teaching. Yes, there is stress in the City, but teaching is no cushy number and if you are going to be stressed out, you might as well have the 6 figure salary.

Grassyass Thu 19-Apr-18 19:06:45

DD is a maths trainee on a SCITT. She got a first in maths from a top uni.
The school offered her a job after training even though they had no vacancy but it's at bottom pay scale so no financial inducement.

they’re not going to fail anyone because they’re a bit crap at essay I hope this is true because the essay part of the PGCE is her nemesis.

Yes, there is stress in the City, but teaching is no cushy number and if you are going to be stressed out, you might as well have the 6 figure salary. Yes to this. DD works quickly but is still putting in 60 -70 hours a week.

SocksRock Thu 19-Apr-18 19:14:50

@noblegiraffe that’s actually more than I currently earn (I’m part time) I didn’t realise that! Maybe need to look a bit closer at how to make this work, and if it’s right for me

The other problem is that to do a PGCE I would need to travel, and it’s a bit of an arse of a commute. If I could do it in one of the local secondaries, it would be much easier

xsquared Thu 19-Apr-18 23:42:09

Nobody wants to be a GCSE maths teacher where I work. They are practically being driven out of their jobs by bullying members of senior management.
Some of the teachers are not even qualified.

Vangoghsear Fri 20-Apr-18 08:47:32

Some schools offer much higher pay for Head of maths eg at AHT level which recognises the importance of the job/subject.

PumpkinPie2016 Sat 21-Apr-18 20:02:12

It's a similar picture in Science. I work at a good school in a decent area but we really struggle to recruit science teachers!

Physics in particular is a nightmare to recruit for.

Then, if the applications we do get, some are unsuitable or when they get to interview their lessons are shocking so that are sent home before the formal interview part.

We also seem to have trouble with retention of science teachers as well.

All in all, it makes for an unsteady department which is not good for anyone.

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