How to be a maths specialist part 1: Boosting subject knowledge

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This post is part of our ‘How to become a maths specialist’ series. Here, you’ll find tips and advice to help you upskill, improve subject knowledge, and raise standards across your school.

You don’t need a maths degree or STEM background to become a primary maths specialist. All you need is some enthusiasm and a commitment to deepening your knowledge of mathematics.

So what can you do to boost your subject knowledge? Glad you asked.

1. Conduct a learning audit

It’s important to know what you don’t know. You might think you know the maths curriculum inside out, but do you?

A regular maths audit gives you a chance to pinpoint any weak spots in your knowledge so that you can choose the right kind of CPD. The added benefit is that an audit can boost your confidence in what you do know.

Check out the National Centre for Excellence of Mathematics (NCETM). They provide self-evaluation tools in both subject content and pedagogy.

2. Commit to CPD

ACME has identified professional learning principles you can use to improve your practice. Key elements include maths-specific knowledge, critical evaluation skills, personalised learning, and collaborative learning.

Teachers can take advantage of a range of CPD opportunities and primary maths specialist courses including:

  • Structured reading
  • Work shadowing
  • Peer guidance and discussion
  • Engaging in lesson study
  • Doing action research
  • Delivering presentations
  • Writing reports and articles of publications
  • Taking CPD courses (MNP can help)

3. Try distance learning

Distance learning helps you take ownership of your own professional development. Here are some examples.

The Open University provides a wide range of CPD opportunities.

Bowland Maths offers free seven modules of activity-based professional development. The modules are intended for Key Stage 3 but can be adapted for other ages and attainment levels.

4. Tap into expertise

The NCETM is a rich source of resources, courses, research, tools, and online CPD modules. Their Maths Hubs programme is a national network of 35 local hubs and joining one is a must.

NRICH is also another great source of inspiration for developing rich maths learning.

5. Join a subject association that focuses on maths

National organisations include the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and Mathematical Association.

Membership gives you access to their resources and countless opportunities to network. Attend seminars and engage with like-minded colleagues looking to develop knowledge and pedagogy.

6. Apply for a designation

Another great way to boost your primary maths specialist skills is to apply to be a Chartered Mathematics Teacher. The Chartered Mathematician (CMath) designation represents a high level of competence in mathematics.

To apply, you need to belong to a subject association and meet the requirements in mathematics and experience. You can find out more here.

Boosting your subject knowledge is the first step towards becoming a primary maths specialist. The next step is putting your own knowledge to work by examining your teaching practice. Read more about it in part two of this series.