Spotlight on LLMEs – Research and Innovation Work Groups (RIWGs)

Hear from the co-leads of the RIWG for Oracy


Spotlight on LLMEs – Research and Innovation Work Groups (RIWGs)

LLMEs, or local leaders of maths education, are the people responsible for leading Maths Hubs professional development at a local level. Experts in both maths teaching and CPD, they combine knowledge of their local context with an understanding of the national picture of maths teaching. This means that they can make the professional development they lead as bespoke and high-quality as possible. Working with small groups of teachers and schools, they really get to know participants and work with them over an academic year or more. And they are usually practising classroom teachers at the same time too.

But who are LLMEs, and how have they taken on the role? In our ‘Spotlights’ series, we speak to LLMEs across the country, in all phases, to learn more.

Jo Makin-Isherwood and Trisha Henley co-lead on the Research and Innovation Work Group for Oracy in primary schools. Both have many years of experience leading a range of Work Groups offered by the Maths Hubs Programme. Here they tell us how their roles have developed and share what makes an RIWG special.

What is your current role?
Trisha I am an intervention teacher, working mainly with Pupil Premium children at Wembrook Primary School. I've been working with Origin Maths Hub on the subject knowledge programme (SKTM) for teaching assistants for several years, and have led one of the programmes for Early Career Teachers for the first time this year. Last year was my first time co-leading the RIWG for Oracy with Jo.

Jo I am fortunate to lead on a wide range of Work Groups. These include Years 5-8 Continuity, Mastering Number, and Teaching for Mastery Sustaining. Trisha and I work together on the RIWG for Oracy, and I also lead on the RIWG for New to Primary Teaching for Mastery Subject Leaders.

When did you first get involved with the Maths Hub? 
Trisha I completed the PD Lead qualification in 2017 and had just started working on the SKTM for TAs when lockdown began. The sessions were rearranged to take place online, so it was lovely when I finally got to meet my new colleagues face-to-face over a year later!

Jo I first joined the Maths Hub in 2015 as Primary Teaching for Mastery Lead for CODE Maths Hub. In my second year, whilst working as a teacher and maths lead at a mixed-age primary school in Cornwall, I qualified as a Mastery Specialist. I relocated to Hereford during Covid and, since we were working remotely, I was able to continue working for CODE. I was later invited to lead Work Groups for SHaW and Origin Maths Hubs, which have proven to be fantastic opportunities.

What does your role as Work Group Lead for an RIWG involve?
Trisha We started working on this RIWG last year and were keen to continue it, as there was so much more to discover within oracy. We are developing our thinking with the teachers – some have carried on with us and some new participants have joined. As leads, we facilitate the teachers’ journeys, challenging their understanding by providing thought-provoking research. They are doing the reading themselves and are trying to implement it back in their classrooms, working out what strategies they can trial and then reflecting on the impact of their work when we come back together.

Jo It's lovely to be part of an RIWG, because we get a chance to read some interesting research and share that with practising teachers. We both feel that teaching should be researched and informed, but to be part of that process is exciting. It’s been great to work with Trisha on the RIWG because we can bounce ideas between us – it encourages us to be more reflective.

What do you enjoy most about being a Work Group Lead?
Trisha In a sense, all teachers are researchers: we try out our ideas and are constantly reflecting on their impact on our pupils – working on an RIWG just formalises this process. It is satisfying to know that, by carrying out our small-scale research projects, we are contributing to a wider body of knowledge which will hopefully impact on children's education.

Jo It is difficult to decide what I enjoy most about being a Work Group Lead, as I have gained so much from the role. My continued professional development certainly ranks highly, not only through the NCETM but also through collaboration with fellow LLMEs and my participants. Every member of a Work Group brings their own expertise and experiences. There is a huge sense of achievement when participants begin to network, support each other and act as advocates for change in their schools. Most importantly, when you hear about the impact these changes are having on the pupils they work with, it is nice to feel that you have played a small part in that.

What advice would you give to teachers about becoming an LLME? 
Trisha If you are passionate about maths education, you really should give it a try! It is a privilege to support others in their development and this leads to personal growth too. Our Maths Hub and our colleagues at the NCETM are all so supportive – I really do feel part of a community.

Jo My advice would be to certainly become an LLME – you will not be disappointed. It is enjoyable and, dare I say, fun! Your own practice will benefit immensely, and you never feel like you are on your own. There is a sense that you are contributing to something very special – it is an honour to be part of the NCETM and Maths Hub community. 

Want to become an LLME?

Find out more about how local leaders of maths education (LLMEs) lead the work of the Maths Hubs at a local level, and how you can become one.