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The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics Annual Report 2007/08

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 16 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 August 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Annual Report 2007/08




Click here to download the
NCETM Annual Report 2007/08
in PDF format


Foreword from the Director
Our mission: to develop a sustainable national infrastructure for subject-specific professional development of teachers of mathematics that will enable the mathematics potential of learners to be fully realised and raise the status of the profession.

This year has been an inspiring one. Having used 2006-7 to build up a strong internal structure and initiate productive relationships with national and regional stakeholders across the mathematics community, this year’s focus has been on teachers, from primary to FE: learning from their experiences, supporting their development and creating an environment of collaboration that enhances mathematics teaching and learning.

Our contribution to the Williams Review of Mathematics Teaching in Early Years Settings and Primary Schools through our online survey is an exciting example of how the National Centre can give teachers a crucial voice in the development of their profession and we are delighted that Sir Peter Williams has chosen to launch his report at our Annual Conference. Relationships with other national stakeholders have enabled us to extend our reach and support key Government initiatives.

Our collaborative relationships have grown from local hubs to regional communities to national networks. The fastest growing network is our own community. In February alone, almost 3 300 people (from over 950 schools, colleges and learning providers) attended the Centre’s national and regional events; while the portal, our online community, now has 13 000 registered members. Our portal enables us to reach and support teachers all over the country.

I am particularly excited by the new online Personal Learning Space (PLS), in which teachers can record their professional learning reflections, aspirations and achievements. Launched in March 2008 by the Rt. Hon. Jim Knight MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners, I predict that the PLS will prove to be really significant in helping to make the crucial link between performance review and professional development.

I would like to end by thanking all our partners, without whom we could not possibly have achieved so much. I am particularly grateful to those who serve on our Advisory Committee, providing us with so much invaluable expertise. I hope readers of this report will continue to spread awareness of the National Centre, encouraging colleagues and associates to visit www.ncetm.org.uk, come to our events, join our communities and networks, engage with our portal and assist us in our quest to engage with senior leaders and teachers. We rely on you all to help us make a difference to the mathematical lives of teachers and learners.

Professor Celia Hoyles O.B.E., Director

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1. Developing the Community through Events and Networks
During the year, two high-profile national events have offered opportunities for teachers to showcase their work and build strong links with other teachers, advisers and researchers.
These included ‘Teachers Talking about Teaching Mathematics’, in Birmingham in November 2007, attended by over 180 people and ‘The Potential of ICT in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics’ conference in March 2008, attended by 340 delegates and addressed by the Rt Hon, Jim Knight MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learning. Full reports of both events are available on the portal.

 Click here to view ‘Teachers Talking about Teaching Mathematics’

 Click here to view ‘The Potential of ICT in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics’ pages

“It was great to feel the buzz and the energy between the participants, it reminded me of the Gatsby Fellowship meetings, when you almost feel elated with the positive energy that is generated and feel that no effort should be spared to get that back into the classroom.” (Secondary mathematics teacher, 20 November event)

Local and regional communities, networks and advocates in each region also help engage a greater number of teachers and provide advice on how to use resources to engage learners. Influence Networks are proving very successful. In 2007, Yorkshire and the Humber’s Influence Network brought Advanced Skills Teachers, Leading Teachers and Lead Practitioners together to share good practice.

“I was surprised and impressed by the synergy and the format was great. Very inspiring – we definitely need to do that sort of thing more often.” (Influence Network member, Yorkshire and the Humber)

 Click here to find out more about the Influence Network

The National Centre leads a range of networks to suit the needs of particular groups of teachers of mathematics. These include the QIA-funded subject coaching networks in all nine regions, led by the Centre’s regional FE team. Subject learning coaches act as mathematics teaching and learning champions within their organisation and many are engaged in the 17 action research projects established this year. Members of these networks have also been taking part in NCETM-led events which offer opportunities for them to work with colleagues from science and engineering.

 Click here to find out more about Subject Coaching Networks

Similarly, networks of teachers in their early years of teaching are proving popular: the ‘225 Network’ in Manchester has recently been extended to Liverpool and is likely to expand to the Preston area during 2008-9.

Networks can be highly effective across educational phases too. The ‘Teachers Talking Theory in Action’ project in the South West involved filming seven teachers (secondary and primary) in their own classrooms, talking about the theories and principles that drove their practice.

 Click here to view 'Teachers Talking Theory: In Action'

At the same time, networks to promote Making Mathematics ‘Real’ have seen the NCETM regional coordinators use innovative approaches to inspire teachers to help learners understand the value of mathematics in everyday life, developing case studies and videos. ‘Maths at Work’ has developed a range of activities, including a ‘Real Life Maths Day’ in schools, and was jointly delivered and evaluated by teachers and business partners.

 Click here to find out more about 'Maths at Work'

“I have every intention of incorporating today’s pointers in my future lesson plans. This is a whole new outlook on the techniques of teaching which will be very useful to me as a new teacher.” (FE teacher, West Midlands)

“Working with like-minded teachers from other schools was a big plus and best of all was that it was cross phase. I learnt so much and went away with new ideas.” (Teacher, West Midlands)

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2. Developing Portal Tools to Support Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The National Centre believes that to be effective, teachers of mathematics need to be secure in three fundamental areas and to understand the connections between them:

mathematics content knowledge
mathematics-specific pedagogy

embedding mathematics content knowledge and pedagogy in practice.

The key tools on the portal help teachers assess where they are against each strand and plan their CPD to improve their teaching or to plot their career path. The usefulness and relevance of these online tools have been demonstrated by the increasing use of the portal. January 2008 saw 31 000 visitors: the highest number of unique visitors to the portal in any one month since its launch. Registrations have more than trebled since this time last year and, as a result, the Centre achieved its target of 10 000 registrations in January - two months early. In particular, there has been a significant growth in the number of primary teachers registering over the last few months. The National Centre has set itself a target of 25 000 registered members by March 2009.

Self-evaluation Tools
The portal now enables teachers of all key stages to assess their confidence in each of the three areas above. These self-evaluation materials are accessed by an average of 2 000 users per month.

“The self-evaluation resources provide a facility for me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses, and we plan to use the materials as a team to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in our department. Most importantly, the site provides the information on the courses and further reading most suited to developing the skills and plugging any gaps in subject knowledge.” (Secondary Head of Mathematics.)

The mathematics-specific pedagogy self-evaluation tools were introduced for KS2 in the spring, with Early Years and KS3 being added over the following months. KS1, KS4, KS5 and content for teachers of adult learners will be added shortly. Materials on embedding mathematics content knowledge and pedagogy in practice are currently being developed.

 Click here to view the self-evaluation tool

Interactive Versions of the Professional Standards
The National Centre has created interactive versions of the TDA and LLUK professional standards exemplified for mathematics. These standards link closely to the career portfolio section of the Personal Learning Space, in which teachers can collect evidence for moving on to the next stage of their career.

 Click here to use the Interactive Professional Standards

Personal Learning Space
The National Centre’s aim to offer a Professional Learning Framework for all teachers of mathematics was realised through linking the key sections on the portal: Resources, Research, Communities, Blogs, Course and Events Directory, News, Self-evaluation and the Mathemapedia through the Personal Learning Space. This supports ‘personalised learning journeys’ and encourages sharing, reflection and collaborative working.

 Click here to access your Personal Learning Space, log on to the portal and it will appear in the left-hand panel of the screen.

Working with HEIs to develop CPD Tools
Colleagues from Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have provided invaluable input into the development of many of the portal tools and HEIs also find them of benefit in their own courses. One HEI has been actively using the exemplification of the TDA standards with their trainee teachers and with mentors to link comments in lesson observations and mentoring meetings with specific elements of development.

College Organisation of Mathematics
The National Centre undertook a study in the London region which identified different models for organising the delivery of the diverse and challenging range of mathematics teaching in most colleges. The report highlighted strategies for organising the subject, improving communication and cohesion within the subject and supporting all teachers of mathematics, in particular those without sufficient knowledge and background in the subject and its pedagogy. This report has now been disseminated nationally through three oversubscribed regional seminars for college leaders.
NCETM Standard
During this year, the NCETM has been working with providers of professional development to establish a quality assurance mechanism. The NCETM Standard identifies a range of quality indicators against which suppliers of courses and other professional development opportunities will self-assess. The Centre will be trialing the Standard with a pilot group of providers in the next few months with a view to piloting implementation from September 2008 in parallel with the TDA implementation of its planned Code of Practice for professional development.

 Click here to view a news item about the pilot
Mathematics Matters
Following national and regional events and portal engagement with teachers and all other key stakeholders, the National Centre has drawn together key findings from this review to identify what constitutes effective learning in mathematics, and what it looks like in practice. The review has demonstrated widespread agreement on the values and principles that underpin effective mathematics teaching and the Centre is already working with key stakeholders to ensure these are embedded in all mathematics initiatives. A report was published in June 2008, supported on the portal by a searchable database of accounts of actual lessons to exemplify the findings.

 Click here to view the 'Mathematics Matters' project

Researching Effective CPD in Mathematics Education (RECME)
This national project was launched in October 2007 and is now well underway. It aims to investigate the interrelated factors that contribute to effective CPD in mathematics teaching and will provide invaluable evidence for future work in this area. Case studies from a sample of over 30 initiatives representing the range of available CPD are being undertaken and made available through the RECME pages on the NCETM portal. Phase 1 is complete and a literature review published. The final report will be published in 2009.

 Click here to read more about the work of RECME

Sharing Research Results
The National Centre is taking a lead role in disseminating to teachers important research findings about mathematics education and in highlighting implications for classroom practice. In June 2007, the Centre published a Mathematics Evidence Bulletin that has been well received by primary, secondary and FE teachers and is now in its third reprint.

 Click here to view the Evidence Bulletin

The NCETM conference in November 2007 took ‘teachers as researchers’ as a main theme and the Centre has established ‘research into practice’ grants, the first of which reported this year.

 Click here to view the report on the first ‘Research into Practice’ grant

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Online Communities
Over this year, the number of communities supported through the portal has grown by over 100% from 105 in May 2007 to 227 in May 2008. Many of these communities are ‘hidden’, encouraging supportive, candid sharing of ideas and experiences. Other communities draw in members from across regions, sectors and institutions to discuss a specific issue, ask for advice or support face-to-face activities.

West Midlands Sixth Form Colleges have developed a community across the region that is both real and virtual to complement their National Centre regionally co-ordinated meetings.

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3. Enhancing Provision
Subject Leader Courses
The UK Mathematics Foundation, University of Birmingham, received an NCETM grant to hold a ‘National Mathematics Teachers Summer School’, in Cambridge in August 2007. Eighty teachers attended and the evaluations were very positive. There are plans to support a similar event in 2008.
 Click here to view a report by a delegate at the event

Through a collaboration with the Subject Associations, an NCETM grant was also awarded to provide 40 new mathematics subject leaders with a 10-day course in spring 2008. These courses, for secondary or college teachers new to the role, were oversubscribed and the evaluations positive. An online resource will be available on the portal from autumn 2008.
 Click here to find out more about this programme

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4. Effective Continuing Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics
The National Centre supports an extensive programme of research, encouraging teachers to consider this as part of their own professional development. Research is supported by collaboration and dissemination to ensure that the findings are relevant and have a genuine impact on classroom practice.

Grants Scheme
The National Centre supports teachers in developing their practice by funding classroom-based research and disseminating the findings through events and the portal to inform the thinking of the wider community. During 2007-08, the Centre supported 39 different projects: 14 in primary schools, 21 in secondary schools, one in FE and three that span all phases.
Click here to view an overview of all the grant projects being undertaken with the National Centre.

One project was led by an AST: Four mathematics teachers from South Hunsley School developed and trialled a new scheme of learning at KS4 aimed at engaging and motivating lower-achieving students by encouraging active rather than passive participation. The impact was a marked improvement in GCSE results, increased engagement and a successful ethos of peer-to-peer working in the mathematics department.

 Click here to read more about the project at South Hunsley School

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5. Spreading the Message to the Community
A communications strategy has been implemented to engage all those involved in teaching mathematics, through events, research and the tools on the portal.
2007-2008 started with the Centre’s first direct mailing to all schools and colleges of a print newsletter, accompanied by postcards, posters and an interactive introduction to the portal. This has been followed by a termly print newsletter which sees hits on the portal increase to over 3 000 on a single day. Each month an e-newsletter is sent to all registered portal users. Additional targeted emails have gone out to all schools. In November 2007, the National Centre sponsored a Guardian supplement: Magic in Maths, which included many contributions from teachers, partners and stakeholders, and was well received.
 Click here to read the supplement

Materials have been developed to engage new entrants to mathematics teaching. This year, all students (over 18 000) on teacher training courses (ITE) have been given a set of professional development materials. These include the key National Centre tools of self-evaluation, the course directory and exemplified TDA and LLUK standards.

The National Centre also actively supported partner events and activities; presenting, running workshops, hosting exhibition stands and attending over 20 conferences during the year.

“The NCETM is doing a great job – the sense of a maths community building up is now very real. Listening to other maths teachers talking about trying things out is very empowering – colleagues are so willing to share – its great.” (Head of Mathematics and Subject Learning Coach)

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6. Priorities for the Future
1. Engage more teachers in CPD for mathematics by:

strengthening and increasing influence networks: e.g. in new areas such as among ASTs and in supporting networks that arise from events;

enhancing the Personal Learning Space (PLS), providing further exemplification, and ongoing evaluation of its use and effectiveness;

planning and running more regional events that embed the use of the portal.
2. Work with partners to fill identified gaps:

enhancing subject knowledge for teaching and subject leadership;

building capacity in mathematics content and pedagogical knowledge in the primary phase;

developing some additional distance learning ‘taster’ professional development;

supporting teaching approaches to mathematics that focus on underlying processes;

adding more value in partnerships;

targeting grants on particular topics e.g. investigations of how the NCETM portal tools can be used to support school or college-based collaborative subject-specific CPD;

piloting implementation of the NCETM Standard (depending on the outcome of the trials) from September 2008.
3. Continue to strengthen and create relationships with national and regional organisations across the mathematics and education communities. Work with: STEM, TDA, Subject Associations, DIUS, QIA, QCA, Ofsted, the SNS and Bowland Maths, and PNS. (For full details see the Appendix.)
In addition, the National Centre will continue to:

work with HEIs, particularly initial teacher education, so all new entrants are made aware of the NCETM provision;

implement strategies that focus on head teachers and principals as key drivers for change in schools and colleges;

develop its grants scheme and publish some of the outcomes in a ‘Teacher Enquiry Bulletin’;

work with ACME to advise on policy in relation to mathematics-specific CPD;

work with the National STEM Director to take forward the Action Programme 2, Improving teaching and learning through CPD for mathematics teachers for which the NCETM has been designated as the lead organisation.

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Working Collaboratively to Enhance CPD Provision
With a potential audience of half a million who teach mathematics and many thousands more who teach and support mathematics learning as part of their own subject specialism across the phases and sectors, the National Centre has, from its inception, worked strategically through partnerships to reach all its audiences. Last year has proved to be one in which the partnerships formed in 2006-7 have shown real results as exemplified below.

Promoting the STEM Agenda
The Centre is working across all phases to promote STEM. Nationally, the Centre has worked collaboratively at a strategic level with the National Science Learning Centre and STEMNET. An inaugural STEM meeting was held in December 2007 at which the National Centre, SLC and STEMNET colleagues worked together to brainstorm and plan a series of joint regional initiatives. Thus at a regional level, the Centre’s Coordinators have now built strong working relationships with their colleagues in STEM subject areas to develop coherent approaches and maximise their joint impact in the regions.

In the post-16 sector, following the publication of the report ‘World Class Skills’ the government accepted the challenging targets recommended and in particular highlighted the need for improved participation and higher achievement levels in STEM. The Centre was invited by QIA to take responsibility, jointly with the National Science Learning Centre, for the Engineering Subject Coaching Networks and, in particular, to explore approaches to collaborative working between teachers of STEM subjects.

We also continue to work with the National Stem Director to take forward the Action Programme 2 of the STEM agenda: Improving teaching and learning through CPD for mathematics teachers, for which the National Centre has been designated as the lead organisation.

Working with the TDA
The Centre has worked with the steering group of the Mathematics Development Programme to aid the training of non-specialist teachers in mathematics through supporting the participants to work collaboratively by means of a dedicated online community.

We have also worked with the TDA to pilot the development of what we call the Secondary Magazine: one section of which provides CPD modules to download each week. These modules give heads of mathematics greater opportunity to engage all the members of their teams in regular, subject-specific CPD. Initially, the materials centred around mathematics-specific pedagogies and latterly focused on strategies for teaching some of those mathematical topics that prove difficult to deliver. By providing such a resource, we are encouraging subject leaders to take ownership of the subject-specific CPD within their school using the collective skills and knowledge of the department, as well as drawing them into the wider work of the National Centre. The pilot proved such a success that the National Centre continued the project with its own funding once the project came to an end.

 Click here to view the Secondary Magazine

Working with the Subject Associations
Subject associations play an important role in offering opportunities for professional learning through active membership. The National Centre continues to work with the all the subject associations to promote CPD. For example, the associations ran a joint workshop at the Centre’s ICT conference, members of the NCETM team made several presentations at the ‘Joined up Mathematics' Easter conference (organised by MA, ATM, NANAMIC, AMET), and assisted the associations with the publicity for the event through our portal and newsletters. The National Centre is also working closely with NAMA to support and learn from those with responsibility for mathematics education in local authorities and made a major contribution to NAMA’s conference in March. There is a strong spirit of collaboration between the subject associations and the National Centre, supported by regular meetings to discuss this joint working.

We have engaged in two projects with the associations: the first concerned the subject leader courses described below and the second involves the creation of a National Centre information CD for all new entrants to the profession at primary, secondary and FE level in 2008.

Working with DIUS
The Leitch Report highlighted the need to improve the overall capability and confidence of the workforce in mathematics. An estimated 6.8 million adults currently have numeracy skills at below Entry level 3 and the government has set a target of an additional 390 000 adults achieving at least a numeracy Entry level 3 qualification by 2011. Meeting this challenging target for functional numeracy will involve a considerable increase on current levels of provision and achievement, as well as new ways of stimulating demand and learning delivery.

The National Centre has worked, on behalf of DIUS, with key partners to develop a national Numeracy for Employability implementation plan. The Regional Coordinator FE team assisted the development of the plan by facilitating consultations with regional partners, including local LSCs, and providing case studies and information from teachers.

 Click here to read about the development of the strategy

Working with QIA
The National Centre works closely with QIA and runs the mathematics strand of the Teaching and Learning Programme on their behalf, including running the networks of subject learning coaches. We are also currently running 34 action research projects, the outcomes of which will be published on our portal, and have run a number of investigative pilots such as in the area offender learning.

’Enabling Reflective Practice’, was the first to be published of the National Centre’s 10-hour learning tasters – in this case, developed for specialist teachers of mathematics in the post-16 sector. Funded by QIA, the module aims to reach specialist teachers who have not, as yet, had access to the Subject Coaching Networks or discovered how materials available through the QIA ‘Excellence Gateway’ can help them to improve their teaching and learning. Hence it may particularly help teachers who work for small learning providers, including adult and community learning or offender institutions for example, or the many part-time teachers in the sector.

The resource was published on the portal in April and offers a range of learning journeys that combine the approaches and existing materials from ‘Improving Learning in Mathematics’ with other practical activities that can be used with colleagues or learners, all underpinned by the reflective environment of the portal Personal Learning Space.

 Click here to view the Enabling Reflective Practice learning taster

Working with QCA
The National Centre has worked closely with QCA and their focus on the development of the primary curriculum, in order to find ways to support teachers, mathematics subject leaders, head teachers and mathematics advisers in the primary phase. As part of this support, the primary 10-hour learning taster ‘Making Connections in Mathematics’ will soon be launched on the portal. A strong team of experienced writers developed the learning materials that will support teachers in taking a holistic approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Working with QCA, the SNS and Bowland Maths
The National Centre has lent its support to assist the introduction of the new curriculum for Key Stages 3 and 4 through the development of the 10-hour learning taster ‘The New Curriculum – Opportunities for Creativity’. The resource was created following close discussion with both QCA and the Secondary National Strategy (SNS) to ensure that secondary school teachers have a joined-up and complementary series of study materials surrounding the implementation of the new curriculum. The module, available through the portal, acts as a pathway to materials from NRICH and the Bowland Maths Initiative.

 Click here to view ‘The New Curriculum – Opportunities for Creativity’ learning taster

We have also worked with Bowland Maths more generally by alerting teachers to Bowland case studies and CPD activity through the portal and at events. As a first step in the dissemination of the work, the National Centre will be working with the Bowland Trust in reaching key influencers in the regions. Our team of regional coordinators will ensure that LA advisors and consultants, ASTs and influential teachers, and other trainers are informed about the regional Bowland meetings provided by the subject associations. Also, after the launch of the case studies, taking place at our Annual Conference on the 12 June, the National Centre will set up and support Bowland communities on our portal.

 Click here to view information about the regional Bowland meetings

 Click here to view the Bowland community

Working with the PNS
The National Centre and the Primary National Strategy (PNS) have worked together over recent weeks throughout the drafting of their new annual plans, to align their objectives and identify opportunities for collaborative working during the coming year.

In particular, we have been focussing on preparing for the implementation of the Williams Maths Review.

(Will be updated as a result of exploration of ideas, including of PNS involvement in promotion and evaluation of Self Assessment tools).


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