Jack Jackson, Principal, Launceston College
Mr Jackson described his school as a “genuine comprehensive school” where “we are passionate about learning outside the classroom”. As a consequence, students have enjoyed trips to the arctic and have learned how to sail, among other things.
To begin, Mr Jackson ran through the developments in mathematics teaching and learning, from Cockcroft (which his sixth-form teacher had told him would really influence how maths would be taught in the future, before setting him 100 algebra questions to do!), through to the ‘Purple Box’, the dominance of SMP (“We were slaves to it!”) and the National Strategies.
He felt that some of the approaches had been “akin to the doctor who enters his waiting room with a medicine and tells all the patients there to take it, come back tomorrow and we’ll see who’s cured!” Clearly, this was not how CPD should work – different approaches suited different people, and some could cure themselves.
Teachers needed to be masters of their own CPD – he had seen this work in practice at a school that had recently come out of special measures. What was most crucial to improvement was to be part of a network. For some it had been a revelation.
Mt Jackson also believed that if technological change continued at the current pace, “over half the jobs my students will be doing haven’t yet been invented,” and it was vital teachers allow students the freedom to explore. He argued that: “The beauty, joy and elegance of mathematics will become clear to children when we don’t give them constraints.”
To invigorate mathematics CPD at his school they had introduced several new approaches:
- an optional learning forum – this would not be ‘top down’ but would suggest changes. It was chaired by someone in their first five years of teaching
- funding higher degrees – this had a huge impact on the teacher as researcher
- ‘have a go fortnight’ – teachers could sign up to go and watch a colleague’s innovative lesson (some really exciting work had come out of those, and those who failed also learned something)
- online networks – laptops were issued to encourage teachers to join networks such as those facilitated by the NCETM
- a restricted CPD shopping basket – simply responding to a flier in the pigeon-hole was not encouraged and no-one could go on a CPD course unless it would have some long-term impacts on practice.
This way, teachers would be given more control over their own CPD and be empowered to learn from each other. Mr Jackson said: “The NCETM reflects exactly my view of what CPD should be: the focus is always on teaching and learning, teachers are masters of their own CPD and networks enable them to share their ideas.”
Listen to Jack Jackson's speech in full: