In summary, there are four different ways to become a maths teacher:
- Postgraduate teacher training courses - offered by universities and colleges throughout the UK
- The School Direct training route - in England and Wales, supported by experienced teachers and mentors within schools
- School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) - again in England and Wales, aimed at graduates with at least three years’ work experience
- Teach First - which aims to develop 'inspiring teachers' within challenging schools.
How to become a maths teacher in the UK.
Maths teaching jobs are never in short supply. As well as maths forming a core part of the curriculum up to age 16, students going into post-16 education are now required to have GCSE maths at grade C or above, and more students than ever are opting to study maths or further maths at A-level. In 2014-15 there were more teacher training places in maths than in any other subject.
You could say there’s never been a better time to think about teaching maths.
How to be a great maths teacher.
Teaching maths isn’t just about having a passion for numbers. Many people who go into teaching the subject speak about the satisfaction they get from working with young people in an environment that presents challenges daily. And maths teachers have particularly rewarding opportunities from those light-bulb moments when a student finally understands a problem.
Alongside the organisational skills needed to ensure that you’re prepared in the classroom, good interpersonal skills and an openness to different approaches, ideas and attitudes are important in engaging, relating to and supporting students, and within the wider school environment. It’s important to get as much classroom experience as you can before you start teacher training, so it’s a good idea to contact local schools to arrange this.
Whether you take up a formal placement, where you spend time shadowing a maths teacher, or go into a school as a classroom volunteer, this is a valuable opportunity to observe lessons, work with students and gain experience and insight before embarking on your chosen training route.
You can become a maths teacher even if maths isn’t the subject of your first degree. Those who have A-level maths but need to transition from another degree subject, or perhaps have a maths degree but are coming to teaching from another profession, take a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course.
SKE courses are designed to provide the depth of subject knowledge you will need to be an effective teacher. They are fully funded, so there are no tuition fees, and training bursaries are available to provide support while you’re completing the course.
Generally, you will be asked to complete an SKE before you start your teacher training programme, although courses are sometimes taken in parallel with training. The delivery of SKE courses varies, but many courses include at least some element of online learning.
Routes into teaching maths.
postgraduate teacher training courses
A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), or Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in Scotland – provide a traditional, higher education-led route into teaching, and are offered by universities and colleges throughout the UK.
The School Direct training route.
(England and Wales only)
This offers practical, hands-on within at least two schools, supported by experienced teachers and mentors. Training lasts for one year and in most cases a PGCE is awarded on completion. The School Direct route is popular with those who want to go on to work within the school network in which they have trained, since the schools generally have a job in mind for the trainee when recruiting and train according to the skills they need in a newly qualified teacher (NQT).
School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT).
(England and Wales only)
This provides training “on the job”, delivered via a programme devised by approved schools working in partnership with their Local Education Authority and a university or college. Like School Direct, training lasts for one year, during which time trainees are supported and mentored by experienced teachers, and in most cases a PCGE is awarded on completion.
This route is aimed at graduates with at least three years’ work experience, and the good news is that you will earn a salary while you train.
This scheme is aimed at developing inspiring teachers within challenging schools. Trainees undertake six weeks of intensive training in a university environment before going onto teach in one of the schools involved in the programme, for at least two years, whilst completing a PGCE. The programme is aimed at graduates with leadership potential.
If you’re looking for maths teaching jobs, any one of these routes will qualify you and give you the necessary experience to start your new career as a maths teacher.
To find out more about the range of jobs available to qualified maths teachers, why not browse our latest vacancies.