Often as a leader of a department, you’ll have non-specialists as part of your team. This is particulary the case in lower performing schools.
By the way – when I say lower performing, I do not mean this as a correlation to inadequate. Some of the best teaching goes on in these schools.
Since schools are lower performing, they aren’t always the most attractive, so there’s always a constant struggle to recruit quality Maths teachers – even more so consider the dearth of actual Mathematics teachers out there!
What tends to happen in this case, then, is that non-specialists tend to be prevalent in such departments. Therefore, as a leader of such departments, it’s vital that subject knowledge is at the centre of any departmental developments.
There are lots of sources to support the development of subject knowledge out there, but one of my favourites is the The Improving Mathematics Education in Schools (TIMES) project website. Now, the site is by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, so it doesn’t marry up to the National Curriculum objectives, but the content is great. For each objective there is:
- A section on the assumed knowledge that students will need to access the objectives;
- A ‘motivation’ – in other words, the point of the objective;
- Content covering the main details of the objective;
- Details of how the objective links to others in the curriculum;
- Some historical background;
- References to published material.
Wow. Seriously, wow. What a wonderful thing. If anyone in your department or beyond needs to gen-up on a particular part of the curriculum – send them to have a read of the TIMES modules. They’re absolutely brilliant.