Working in partnership with the Department for Education, Bath Spa University and the Sigma Teaching School Alliance

Our Secondary Maths and Core Maths programmes have got off to a successful start with 30 percent of our twilight programme completed already. Our participants have very much enjoyed our blended approach to assessment this year with past and practice papers to work on at their own speed. The flexible and bespoke programmes we provide are very much participant-centred as we are all too aware of the demands of teaching, especially when settling into the first half-term’s teaching. We are excited about our brand new Physics course starting soon and I’m sure it won’t be long before the MFL course gets underway. Participant numbers are very healthy for the Maths courses but I suspect the reason for the slower pick-up on the other courses is that we only have a finite number of teachers in our local schools and we need to significantly build on those numbers if we are to ensure that all our students have access to well-qualified, inspiring teachers.

In a previous blog I alluded to the Sir Adrian Smith Review and its implications for Maths teaching. With a bulge in population of some half a million students passing through the secondary school stage during the next eight years it is very likely that we will need to train an extra 1,000 Maths teachers a year on top of the number of existing trainees graduating through established routes. This is a serious cause of concern as numbers on courses have already dropped significantly in the past few years. Is the answer to pay more? Perhaps yes but this only partially solves the problem as we also need to work on internal motivation levers as well, including giving teachers more autonomy and time to master new content, and developing themselves professionally through, for example, pedagogy training.

Our solution in Poole is to create the only school-based Maths SKE course in the South-West of England. Our aim is to ensure that we have sufficient numbers of graduates joining our local schools. From January two of our local schools – Poole High and Poole Grammar are collaborating to provide a local blended course which will form an excellent basis for ITT training. Participants will receive subject specific content training, attend our pedagogy-based TSST workshops, benefit from one-to-one expert mentoring and observe lessons in these two schools. Furthermore they will be expected to complete a range of online and paper assessments in order to be teacher-ready in September. Here in Poole we are very excited by the Maths SKE course and it is our intention to build Physics and MFL SKE courses in the near future.

We also have our eye on teacher retention and to that effect several local teaching schools and alliances have formed a network of excellent teachers called Local Specialist Teachers (LSTs). The LST team will work closely with a range of teachers in the region to ensure that they receive full support with their professional development, including coaching, mentoring, observing, team teaching but also acting as a confidante and ally. In this way we hope that teachers will be encouraged to stay in the profession and develop their careers.

We are facing some turbulent times ahead but with our approach of Train, Retrain & Retain we hope to ensure that all our students have high qualified, inspirational teachers guiding them through the school careers. They deserve it. They are our future.

Andy Oldman