Professor Celia Hoyles at the NCETM Annual Conference
Turning the spark into the flame
The NCETM Director Celia Hoyles took the podium at the Royal Society on Tuesday (17/06/08) to launch the National Centre’s Annual Report and to highlight its work over the last year.
The NCETM is now two years old and has made huge progress in promoting a blended approach to effective CPD through a combination of face-to-face activity, led by a team of Regional Coordinators, and interactions with the NCETM online portal. Professor Hoyles stressed that it was crucial to get this blend right and this was something that the NCETM was working hard to do.
“Now is time to consolidate and grow the NCETM community,” she told the 150 delegates filling the hall, and she called upon them to help fulfil this all-important goal.
She began by stressing that CPD is a teacher’s right, to help them both enjoy and develop their career as a teacher of mathematics.
“My vision is that the NCETM will provide opportunities for all teachers of mathematics to embark on their own personalised mathematical CPD journeys,” she told the conference.
“There is a wonderful moment,” she said “when you see the spark of real understanding. It is this moment that we must try to make available to all teachers of mathematics, so that both they and every learner of mathematics in this country can achieve their full potential.”
Outlining the many achievements of the NCETM in the last year, Professor Hoyles highlighted five key elements:
- Events and networks
- Development of portal tools
- Enhancing CPD provision
- Research into and as part of effective CPD
- Engaging with more teachers and leaders.
Three major national events have included Teachers Talking about Teaching Mathematics last November, The Potential of ICT in Teaching and Learning Mathematics in March, and of course, the conference itself, bringing together mathematics policy influencers and practitioners at the highest level.
Regional Events, such as the Summer Conferences in the Midlands and the Next Steps events in the North East, have also played a key role in linking teachers who want to discuss issues in mathematics education and share good practice, as have networks such as ‘225’ and the Network of Primary Schools in the East Midlands.
Professor Hoyles quoted one teacher who was typical of the kind of feedback the NCETM receives after such events:
“It was a privilege to work alongside other experienced teachers. Even though we’re experienced there are still a lot of new things you can learn.”
For those who haven’t yet made it to an event, the NCETM portal is the place to make virtual contact with colleagues, engage in CPD and enhance one’s career. The Professional Learning Framework guides the user to all the key elements, including the new Self-evaluation Tool and the Personal Learning Space (PLS).
Of the highly popular PLS, Professor Hoyles said that she had found it extremely useful for storing her ‘Favourites’ and any other materials that she wanted to be able to access quickly and easily. She said she understood exactly what one PLS convert meant – even if she felt she might perhaps be over-stating it very slightly! – when she exclaimed, “The PLS has changed my life!”
Subject leader courses and the NCETM Standard (to provide quality indicators for CPD providers, being piloted this summer) will enhance CPD provision throughout the country. The NCETM Research into Practice grants are also contributing greatly in this area. Grants awarded for work around collaborative groups, for improving teaching through coaching and cooperative learning have also been highly successful.
Professor Hoyles quoted one grant applicant who said: “The whole process of application through to implementation has enabled each staff member to be more focussed in our thinking. Cooperative Learning represents a fundamental shift in our current practice and has brought into sharp focus the link between our CPD as teachers and pupil attainment.”
Engaging with more teachers and leaders has also been a core part of the year’s work. A termly print newsletter, monthly e-newsletters and other communications have taken the CPD message direct to the individual teacher, wherever he or she is located. An online discussion on Teaching and Learning Proof attracted over 100 viewers and promoted a lively portal debate. At the same time, the NCETM has worked closely with a number of key partners - contributing to the Williams Review (the final report was launched at the conference by Sir Peter Williams), working closely with Bowland, STEM, QIA and DIUS, and with HEIs.
But ultimately, Professor Hoyles pointed out, the past year and the year to come are about ever more teachers of mathematics accessing the resources, the tools and the communities that the NCETM makes available. She ended with a quote from one mathematics teacher whom she hoped more and more teachers would want to echo, as they come into contact with the Centre and take advantage of everything it has to offer:
“Through the NCETM I have a sense that a real mathematical community is starting to be developed, nurtured and appreciated. As a maths teacher for over 25 years I now have access to external support and dialogue, peer support, opportunities for learning and to build on my own expertise as a leader of CPD within my department.”