Welcome to this unique set of professional development materials for all existing (both new and experienced) and aspiring mathematics subject leaders.
It goes without saying that it is teachers as individuals in their own classrooms who have the most significant influence on the mathematical learning of their pupils. High quality teaching and learning within schools is a product of a number of other factors which are to do with working together as a team. It is these things that are the responsibility of a subject leader.
The core responsibilities of a subject leader are:
- Developing a common purpose and a shared culture
Promoting and creating a shared vision for why mathematics is important, what you want for your pupils and what you all want to achieve in your school/department through the mathematics curriculum
- Planning for improvement
Making an honest appraisal of what you are good at, what needs to be worked on and planning actions and developments accordingly
- Working and developing together as a team
Developing and sustaining a culture of sharing teaching ideas, encouraging professional development and working together to develop practice
- Having efficient and well organised systems
Setting up and maintaining good, efficient systems for the management and organisation of resources and data together with the documentation of agreed policy and practice.
These materials have been developed to support subject leaders in developing these skills and ways of working.
The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) believes that all teachers develop best when they work together, informed by ideas from various ‘outside’ sources but also by ideas and approaches adopted by others practitioners doing the same job as they are. Therefore we have written these materials with plenty of real examples of how other subject leaders have tackled the challenge of leading and managing a successful teaching team.
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How are the materials structured?
Note: hovering over the different parts of this diagram will show how the key elements and the core responsibilities are related.
In Section 1: The Key Elements four forms of support are offered:
- a clear layout of the ‘terrain’ of effective subject leadership in the form of a ‘map’ of the key elements of subject leadership
- descriptions of key features of good practice for each of these key elements
- case studies based on experiences from subject leaders around the country to help you reflect on your own practice and to begin to get a feel for what you might want to work on
- a place to record your thoughts, next steps and action points using the NCETM Personal Learning Space (PLS) and a Policy to Practice pro-forma to record your action points.
In Section 2: The Core Responsibilities there is an opportunity to explore the four core subject leader responsibilities that knit together the elements in the ‘terrain’:
- developing a common purpose and a shared culture
- planning for improvement
- working and developing together as a team
- having efficient and well organised systems
For each one there is a set of focused ‘best-fit’ example statements which allow you to locate your own practice and clearly identify a set of realistic and manageable next steps for development.
‘Stories of change’ from subject leaders around the country are offered to explain how they have worked on these issues. The section ends with a format for you to document your own next steps.
In addition to these two main sections there are also a number of other sections offering support, information, advice and inspiration:
A talking heads section where subject leaders give their own perspective on the role and offer advice and top tips.
A subject leader glossary which gives practical help in disentangling all those acronyms and buzz phrases.
A further support and web-links section gives you easy access to a range of other information and support.
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Possible ways of working with these materials
As a tool for your own personal reflection, self-assessment and target setting.
- use the ‘map’ of key elements in Section 1 to get a sense of the range of things you need to consider as a subject leader
- decide on which elements are most important for you, ‘clear the decks’ and focus on one or two things rather than be overwhelmed by the whole job
- work through these identified elements on your own or with your line manager
- plan (again either on your own or in discussion with your line manager) how the ideas, themes and activities in these elements might be introduced to your team
- use the core responsibilities in Section 2 which relate to some of the elements you have studied to go further and dig deeper.
As a source of discussion and development activity for your whole team.
- use some of the case studies offered in Section 1 and discuss them in your own team meetings. Use them as a stimulus to document your own policies, practices and developments
- use some of the best fit example statements in Section 2 and debate where you feel you are as a team in relation to a particular issue. Use the subject leader reflections and thoughts in this section to help you come up with clear action points for further development.
As a resource to use (in any of the ways outlined above) with other subject leaders in a network or professional learning community.
There is, of course, no one right way to use these materials and we envisage that you will develop your own ways while in the process of using them.
Please use the comments section below to let us know of how you have used them and what has been successful.