- Published: 31/01/2024
Local leaders of mathematics education (LLMEs) 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.
Susan Okereke is a Lead Practitioner in a London secondary school, and a maths communicator, regularly presenting and blogging about her passion for numeracy. She also co-hosts a podcast with Bobby Seagull, ‘Maths Appeal’, which aims to make maths more relevant and accessible. Alongside this, Susan finds time to work as an LLME for her local Maths Hub, London South East+. She has led a range of Work Groups and programmes for the hub, and has most recently begun leading sessions for the Secondary Non-specialist Teachers SKTM Programme, working with those who teach maths outside their usual subject area to develop their subject knowledge and pedagogy.
How would you describe your passion for maths?
I love thinking and talking about maths education and considering how we can improve teaching and learning. I believe a good maths education can transform people’s lives. A lot of the work I do in my school is with students who find maths challenging – I love helping them to grow in confidence in the subject, and I love working with teachers who have the same aim.
When did you first get involved with the NCETM and London South East+ Maths Hub?
In 2016 I completed the NCETM PD Lead Programme. It was great! I chose to become accredited as a PD Lead in the primary phase instead of secondary, because I was looking for inspiration when it came to teaching maths to GCSE foundation students.
The programme opened my eyes to the concrete and pictorial teaching strategies used at primary school. It encouraged me to use the approaches with my own students, and to share the strategies with my secondary colleagues. The feedback from my students and colleagues after I completed the PD Lead Programme was very positive.
I moved schools, and started working at a secondary school that was the Lead School for a Maths Hub. I expressed an interest in delivering CPD sessions, and in 2017 I was given my first Work Group, leading the Years 5-8 Continuity project for teachers in local schools.
How did your work as an LLME develop after your first Work Group?
I loved how leading the Years 5-8 Continuity project enabled me to continue growing my own knowledge of concrete, pictorial and abstract teaching strategies, whilst also encouraging primary and secondary teachers to communicate and work together. Although I was the Work Group Lead, I learnt a lot delivering the project, both through the central NCETM training and working with the participants in the Work Group.
In 2018, I led another Years 5-8 Continuity Work Group, as well as one looking at GCSE Resit. This experience highlighted the importance of thinking about maths education as a continuous journey for our students – from KS1 through to KS4 and into FE. As maths teachers, we should have a greater understanding of progression in maths through every phase of compulsory education.
I’ve now led on a variety of projects: Years 5-8 Continuity, GCSE Resit, Mathematical Thinking and Secondary Non-Specialist Teachers SKTM, and this year I'm also leading on the Supporting to Achieve L2 Cross-phase Work Group.
What have you enjoyed so far about being an LLME?
I have found the training from the NCETM incredibly informative and thought-provoking. It has enabled me to build my subject-specific and pedagogical knowledge, whilst also deepening my awareness of maths education across the country and keeping my understanding of the maths education landscape up to date.
I also really enjoy engaging with other LLMEs from around the country who are delivering the same projects as me. It’s great to share our different experiences of leading Work Groups and programmes. There is such a wealth of expertise out there. I love sharing ideas and advice on how to deliver and evaluate sessions, while also talking about how to work effectively with participants and schools.
What are the particular benefits of the Secondary Non-specialist Teachers SKTM Programme?
This is my second year delivering the Secondary Non-specialist Teachers SKTM and I thoroughly enjoy working on this project. It is such an important project; our country is dealing with a national shortage of maths teachers so there are many schools asking non-specialists to step in. The Non-specialist SKTM offers great subject specific, pedagogical and professional support and guidance to those teachers, building on whatever support they are already receiving from their schools.
The teaching resources in the programme are really thorough, well-planned and visually engaging. They are a pleasure to use in online and face-to-face sessions, and all of my participants have been really grateful for the insight into and experience of using up-to-date visual maths teaching strategies. A number of participants have shared these strategies with maths colleagues in their schools and received positive feedback – the non-specialist has been teaching the specialist!
Delivering this programme, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how engaged and enthusiastic all of my participants have been about teaching maths. It’s been wonderful seeing them bring the teaching skills from their areas of expertise to the maths classroom. I see my sessions in the programme as a space to empower the participants to become confident and reflective maths teachers, building on their prior knowledge of maths, their knowledge of pedagogy and their life experiences as a teacher.
It has been a privilege working with such a variety of teachers, hearing about the range of contexts they come from, and learning about the different aims and goals they each have for doing the project. I’m very much looking forward to meeting my next Non-specialist SKTM cohort!
Want to become an LLME?
Find out more about how LLMEs lead the work of the Maths Hubs at a local level, and how you can become one.