NCETM - Working collaboratively to enhance mathematics teaching

Module for mathematics specialists in post 16 education and training

Frequently Asked Questions

If your question, or one similar to it, is not in this list, you may find what you are looking for in the list of Key Facts.

What exactly is the "Learning and Skills sector"?

The term 'learning and skills sector' was introduced with the setting up of the of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) which was originally charged with funding all post-16 learning activity that takes place outside the school and higher education sectors

The Institute for Learning provides an explicit definition for the sector to include:

Institute for Learning (IfL)Source: Institute for Learning (IfL)

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What is the difference between full and associate teaching roles?

The Institute for Learning has defined two distinct types of teaching role in the learning and skills sector. They are Full and Associate. The distinction is not about hours or mode of teaching: part-time, temporary and agency teachers can all be full teachers.

Those in full teaching roles carry the full range of teaching responsibilities and they are expected to be fully conversant with current curriculum development, innovation and delivery strategies in their subject area. Holders of associate teaching role do not have to meet quite as high a standard of responsibility and expertise.

Institute for Learning (IfL)Source: Institute for Learning (IfL)

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Do I need to maintain an online portfolio of CPD?

You are expected to keep a record of CPD and you will need to provide the Institute for Learning with an annual statement of your CPD to remain in good standing. This statement will need to indicate where the evidence for your CPD can be found. Putting it on line makes it more easily accessible.

The IfL provides on-line tools for refelction and recording of CPD and is developing REfLECT, a tool that helps members to build their personal online portfolio (or 'e-portfolio').

Institute for Learning (IfL)Source: Institute for Learning (IfL)

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What kind of activities count as CPD?

The Institute for Learning defines CPD in a very open way and emphasises that it is what you do with an activity that makes it CPD, rather than just the activity itself.

The following list is based on a set of examples provided by IfL and is only meant as a set of prompts. As the IfL site develops, further examples and case studies will be made available to members.

Examples of CPD activities:

Institute for Learning (IfL)Source: Institute for Learning (IfL)

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How can I become a subject learning coach?

In order to become a subject learning coach (SLC) you have to work in the Learning and Skills sector, be nominated by your employer and take part in a professional training programme. You need to be activiely involved in teaching in one of the following subject areas:

If you are passionate about teaching, training and learning, committed to making a difference and have the respect of your colleagues then you should discuss the possibility of being nominated for the SLC programme with the appropriate manager.

QIA Subject Learning Coaches siteSource: QIA Subject Learning Coaches site

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What is the PTP?

PTP stands for 'Professional Training Programme' and it is the training that is provided to subject learning coaches. The training covers coaching skills - using the GROW model - as well as the subject-focused teaching and learning frameworks that support SLCs and their work. The PTP is a blended learning model with an online e-learning element supported by an e-tutor and two days of training activities with other SLCs-in-training.

Participants in the PTP will have opportunities to practise their coaching skills and engage in an action research project. SLCs can aim just to complete their programme successfully, or they can choose to achieve a Higher Education award at Level 4 or 7 with the Westminster Institue of Education.

QIA Subject Learning Coaches siteSource: QIA Subject Learning Coaches site

Mindtools siteMindtools site provides a simple introduction to the GROW model of coaching

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What does QIA stand for and what is it?

QIA is the Quality Improvement Agency. It was created when the former Learning and Skills Development Agency was split into two parts: QIA to deal with quality improvement in the learning and skills sector and LSN to provide other services to the sector, such as training SLCs .

QIA has been given a specific remit by the government to:

QIA web siteSource: QIA web site

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What does LSN stand for and what is it?

LSN stands for Learning and Skills Network. This was created when the Learning and Skills Development Agency was divided into QIA and LSN.

Unlike QIA, LSN is independent of government. It describes itself as 'a not-for-profit organisation committed to making a difference to education and training'. Currently it delivers a range of quality improvement and staff development programmes that support specific government initiatives such as training SLCs

LSN web siteSource: LSN web site

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What or who are 'e-guides'?

The Teaching and Learning Programme includes training for staff involved with teaching and learning in the learning and skills sector to become an 'e-Guide'.

People contemplating becoming e-guides need to be confident in their use of ICT, enthusiastic about e-learning, prepared to champion change and able to work well with colleagues. E-guides are expected to:

NIACE e-Guides pageSource: NIACE e-Guides page

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What is 'realistic mathematics'?

There are a number of movements in mathematics education based on the assumption that the learning of mathematics is likely to make more sense and be more motivating if it is done within a realistic context that is meaningful to the learner. 'Realistic mathematics' is one of those movements and is associated with the Freudenthal Institute in the Netherlands.

Realistic or contextualised approaches to mathematics learning have received considerable interest recently and the QIA has included "Learning Mathematics in Context" as one of the subjects in the 2007/08 round of the TLP.

Manchester Metropolitan University Centre for Mathematics EducationSource: Manchester Metropolitan University Centre for Mathematics Education

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What happened to Maths4Life?

The Maths4Life project transferred to the NCETM on 1 April 2008. It was started originally by NRDC, who remain a key partner in NCETM's further development of post-16 mathematics and numeracy work.

Maths4Life publications can still be ordered free of charge from the NDRC publications page.

Maths4lifeSource: Maths4life (note these pages are now hosted on the NCETM portal)

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What is NDRC?

NDRC stands for National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy. It is dedicated to conducting research and development projects to improve literacy, numeracy, language and related skills and knowledge.

The NDRC website is a rich source of ideas and materials for adult numeracy. Maths4life originated here and the materials can still be ordered from the site.

NDRCSource: NDRC web site

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What happened to coursework in Mathematics GCSE?

As part of its review of coursework in GCSE subjects, the QCA decided that the evidence for dropping coursework from Mathematics GCSE was overwhelming and so they decided that it should be dropped at the earliest opportunity. While other GCSE subjects will drop coursework from September 2009, in Mathematics it was dropped from September 2007.

Teachers felt that GCSE Mathematics coursework was unreliable and not a valid measure of students' abilities

QCA GCSE Mathematics coursework consultation pageSource: QCA GCSE Mathematics coursework consultation page

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What is GCSE Use of Mathematics?

This new qualification is expected to be in pilot until 2010. It combines Intermediate and Foundation free standing mathematics qualifications (FSMQs) with functional mathematics to create a recognised GCSE certificate. It is practical and relevant to the real world, including arithmetic skills, problem-solving and modelling. Depending on the choice of units, GCSE Use of Mathematics can be completed with or without portfolio work.

It is examined by AQA under restricted conditions and is aimed at post-16 students who have had limited success in mathematics. The hope is that this more application-oriented approach will prove motivating for these students.

The Nuffield Foundation's FSMQ siteSource: The Nuffield Foundation's FSMQ site

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What is AS Use of Mathematics?

This AS qualification has been available for some time and is constructed out of Advanced units of free standing mathematics qualifications. It is designed for post-16 students who do not want to do Mathematics A Level but are keen to keep up their mathematical education

The Nuffield Foundation's FSMQ siteSource: The Nuffield Foundation's FSMQ site

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What are free-standing mathematics qualifications?

FSMQs are qualifications in mathematics that became part of the national qualifications framework in September 2000. They are available as units at three different levels: Foundation (3 units), Intermediate (3 units) and Advanced (4 units). Each unit requires 60 guided learning hours and is assessed by equally weighted coursework portfolio and written examination.

FSMQs are indeed free-standing, but are also used as the elements of GCSE and AS Use of Mathematics qualifications.

FSMQs were designed to appeal to post-16 students, including those on general and specialised vocational courses.

The Nuffield Foundation's FSMQ siteSource: The Nuffield Foundations FSMQ site

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What is happening with numeracy?

NCETM has been commissioned by DIUS to work with key partners to develop a National Numeracy for Employability Strategy. This if the background to the NCETM project, Making Numeracy Matter Even More: A National Strategy..

Raising numeracy/mathematics skills is one of the biggest challenges as identified in the Leitch Report. An estimated 6.8 million adults currently have numeracy skills at below Entry 3, and the government has set a target of an additional 390,000 adults achieving at least a numeracy Entry 3 qualification by 2011. Meeting this challenging target for functional numeracy will involve a considerable increase on current levels of provision and achievement.

NCETM Making Numeracy Matter Even More pageSource: NCETM Making Numeracy Matter Even More page

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What was the Leitch Review of Skills?

The introduction to the final report of the Leitch Review of Skills (December 2006) included the following statement:

Our nation's skills are not world class and we run the risk that this will undermine the UK's long-term prosperity. Productivity continues to trail many of our main international comparators. Despite recent progress, the UK has serious social disparities with high levels of child poverty, poor employment rates for the disadvantaged, regional disparities and relatively high high income inequality. Improving our skill levels can address all of these problems.

Numeracy figured significantly in the report. For example:

This means that out of a total population of 60 million, 28% of adults (approximately 3 in every 10) have difficulty with numbers. The report led directly to a range of initiatives aimed at improving skills, including the introduction of Functional Mathematics.

QIA pdf

Teachers resource.
Source: Final Report of the Leitch Review


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How does mathematics figure in the new 14-19 Diplomas?

All Diplomas will include a requirement to achieve functional mathematics at an appropriate level.

Several of the Diploma 'lines', as the subject areas are called, will have significant mathematical content and providers may well need to call on teachers of mathematics to support their content delivery.

DCSF Diploma pageSource: DCSF Diploma page

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How will A Level reforms affect Mathematics?

A level reforms will impact on all subjects from September 2008 - except for mathematics. Because mathematics was reviewed and the subject criteria were changed in 2004 there will be no further changes to Mathematics A Level until 2011, when new specifications will be introduced. NCETM will be involved in the process of developing the new specifications.

The new A* grade, to be introduced for the first time in 2010, will apply to all subjects, including Mathematics.

DCSF Diploma pageSource: DCSF Diploma page

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