Welcome and overview - Professor Celia Hoyles OBE, Director, NCETM
Celia Hoyles has been Professor of Mathematics Education at the Institute of Education, University of London since 1984, following teaching in London secondary schools. She has directed over 30 research and consultancy projects concerned with mathematics at all levels and in a variety of contexts and published widely in articles and books. Her major research interests are: secondary students’ conceptions of proof and strategies for teaching proof, the mathematical skills needed in modern workplaces, the design and implementation of computational environments for learning and sharing mathematics and systemic change in the professional development of teachers of mathematics. Recent books include: Mathematics Education and Technology-Rethinking the terrain
(2009, co-editor) Springer, and Improving Mathematics at Work: The need for Techno-mathematical Literacies
(2010, co-author) Routledge
Professor Hoyles was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2004 for services to mathematics education and was chosen as the first recipient of the Hans Freudenthal medal, in recognition of her cumulative programme of research. In December 2004 she took up the position of the U.K. Government’s Chief Adviser for Mathematics (75% of her time), a position she held until November 2007. She has been awarded honorary doctorates, by the Open University in 2006, and Loughborough University in 2008.
In June 2007, Celia was appointed as (part time) Director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics
. Recently she was awarded the first ever Royal Society Kavli Education Medal in recognition of a distinguished contribution to science or mathematics education.
Professor Hoyles began her keynote speech by reminding delegates of the NCETM vision:
- to develop a sustainable national infrastructure to support the subject-specific professional development of all teachers of mathematics;
- to meet the professional aspirations of teachers;
- to realise the potential of learners.
It does this through supporting face-to-face events and networks, as well as by encouraging personal interaction with its portal. The NCETM believes strongly in partnership, working closely with subject associations, higher education institutions (HEIs), the Advisory Committee on Mathematical Education (ACME), local authorities (LAs), the Prince’s Teaching Institute, Science Learning Centres and many others.
In March 2011 there were 58 000 registered users of the NCETM portal: an average of 6 per secondary school, 1.4 per primary school and 10 per FE college. The number of registered users was increasing by about 100 per day. Many people have reported on how the NCETM has enabled the sector to help itself through self-improvement and on the effects this has had in transforming teaching, learning and attitudes. This improvement requires both teachers with clear shared vision and strategy, as well as a strong infrastructure for mutual support.
The National Centre has introduced quality assurance for mathematics education continuing professional development (CPD) through the NCETM CPD Standard. The standard is held by HEIs, LAs, professional bodies, commercial and freelance providers. Other well-received NCETM support includes the monthly, sector-specific online magazines, the Associate programme, the Self-evaluation Tools, and the wide range of funded, teacher-led research projects. These funded projects have involved a large investment of teachers’ time and have been greatly appreciated; for example, they have helped give status to teachers’ work, to build communities of teachers and to support teachers in taking risks in trying out new teaching ideas.
Mathematics teachers are often expected know all the answers. People have appreciated the NCETM culture of discussing mathematics and feeling able to share anxieties about aspects of teaching mathematics. This has permeated the portal, particularly through the funded projects, the online communities and forums and other NCETM-supported networks. A Head of Mathematics summed this up by, “I plug myself into the NCETM to recharge.”
Much of the National Centre support is focused on different aspects of mathematics teaching. Some of these are covered in the Microsites, which focus on areas as diverse as support for: Further Education, overseas-trained teachers of mathematics, one-to-one teachers, the numeracy challenge, the primary and early years curricula. To help people find the parts of the portal most useful for them, it has now been sectorised.
The NCETM needs continually to adapt to meet current needs. Recent developments – such as the government’s schools’ White Paper (The Importance of Teaching), the National Curriculum review, the Wolf report – all have important implications for the needs of mathematics teaching. These – and how to build on achievements up to date (“standing on the shoulders of giants”) – were further explored in the rest of the conference.