Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Matters
The current national priority to develop a strong supply of scientists, engineers and technologists through the National STEM programme demonstrates a clear need for expert teachers of mathematics at all levels in schools and colleges, both for mathematics as a subject in its own right as well as to support engineering, science and technology learning. The shortage of mathematics teachers and the difficulty in recruiting high quality Initial Teacher Education (ITE) trainees to qualify as mathematics teachers at secondary level and higher is well documented and long standing (Cockcroft Report 1982; POST 1996; Smith Report 2004; University of Manchester 2005).
In the primary sector, only between 2% and 4% of ITE trainees have a degree in a STEM subject and the Williams Review recommendation of one mathematics specialist per primary school requires an additional 10,000 primary teachers to develop expertise in this area (Williams Review 2008). In Making Mathematics Count (Smith 2004), Professor Adrian Smith says it is
'essential to ensure that a good supply of newly qualified teachers is maintained and therefore that able and committed trainees are recruited to fill all allocated training places'.
In meeting these national demands there is a clear need for high quality Initial Teacher Education in all sectors. ITE providers are an essential link in the chain of mathematics leadership, and supporting effective practice in ITE is important to the government’s overall stance on Subject Leadership, raising the profile of and achievement in STEM, improving teachers’ subject knowledge and contributing to the drive to bridge the gap between high and low achievement in Mathematics. This is the national context in which the Initial Teacher Education Matters consultation was undertaken.
The vision for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) encourages learning from best practice through collaboration among staff and by sharing good practice as an effective tool for professional development. Initial Teacher Education Matters was one of the NCETM’s projects for 2010-11. Modelled on Mathematics Matters (NCETM 2008), it aimed to help embed effective practices in mathematics across ITE institutions by engaging the community in taking ownership of and adding to the wealth of research-based evidence in this area.