Tag Archives: setting

It’s the Maths we care about

I am currently interviewing candidates for the 2012/13 PGCE maths. We expect fees for the course to be in excess of £9000 this year, but there is still a bursary for those coming in to teaching. There has been great publicity about the present secretary of state’s interest in teachers with highly accredited subject knowledge, so the bursaries are £20K if you have a 1st, £15K for a 2:1 and £12K for a 2:2. If you have a 3rd in your first degree, no support is given, so you will not get a place. Now it is deeply arguable as to whether there is any relationship between the class of your degree and your abilities as a teacher. However, when you find out that the subject of the degree is not relavent, nor is the University it came from, then you simply have to look in awe and wonder and ask if the DfE did this after a drunken night out and forgot to review. It is seriously the case that a candidate with a 1st in Spanish (and presumably a maths enhancement course) from AnyWhere Uni will get £20K and someone with a 2:2 in Pure Maths from Cambridge will get £12K to become a maths teacher. If someone has Mr Gove’s ear, please check that he really means this. I cannot believe he does.

Charmingly, Mr Gove’s maths Tsar has a 3rd in Engineering. The power of celebrity knows no bounds.

So, why do we put kids in sets?

I am not unique in wishing to question the omnipresence of putting kids into different groups according to the teacher’s perception of their potential to achieve. Jo Boaler has been shouting this loudly for some time now (see The Elephant in the Classroom) and Anne Watson makes the case forcefully (see Raising Achievement …). So, how can it be that even primary school teachers feel unable to to teach a class of 7 year olds the same number skills at the same time – because there is such a great gap in their likelihood to succeed? Continue reading So, why do we put kids in sets?