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More teachers make the switch to maths

Forty more teachers in NSW are bridging the gap between the supply and demand for qualified maths teachers.

In the second year of the NSW Department of Education’s maths retraining program, another 40 primary and secondary teachers have started retraining so they are better able to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, finance, management, social science and other fields.

The program creates new opportunities for teachers to progress as qualified mathematics teachers or as Head Teachers – Mathematics.

Supported by experienced maths teachers as mentors, participants complete a fully funded master’s program, graduate diploma or graduate certificate at the University of Newcastle, depending on their experience and career goals.

They study from five to 22 months, depending on which qualification is being studied for and whether the study is part-time or full-time.

Ms Tara Buckley, a teacher at Lockhart Central School, said she joined the program to enhance her own maths knowledge and help her students understand lifelong learning.

“I have an English and Humanities Society and its Environment background and found maths to be a passion. I’m hoping to solidify my own knowledge and skills in maths – some of which I haven’t used in over a decade since finishing my own schooling,” she said.

“Ultimately, my aim is to diversify so that I can be a living example of what lifelong learning is to my students. I want them to see my efforts, trials and tribulations, and understand that adding things to our repertoire isn’t always easy but is always worth it.”

Participant Mr Grant Watson, who has been studying with the program for a year, said having a mentor has improved his professional practice.

“Having the opportunity to work with a mentor has greatly supported my ability to reflect on the content of my study. Being able to bounce ideas off an expert supports understanding of the topics and how to tailor them to our students,” he said.

“I have found the program extremely rewarding. It has reassured me that I have an immense love of learning and passion for public education.

“A huge part of this is the support of the Mathematics Retraining team and the camaraderie of the participants. Through their support and guidance, it is hard not to enjoy the program and feel a sense of belonging.”

The program has already supported seven teachers to receive their qualifications to teach mathematics and they are now being permanently appointed in schools.

Ms Zijing Barber completed the retraining program last year and is permanently employed at Kingscliff High School in northern NSW.

“The best part of the Mathematics Retraining Program is the collaborative learning environment, and the supportive community of practice with other participants motivates and inspires me to excel in my learning journey,” she said.

The project lead at the University of Newcastle, Ms Elena Prieto-Rodriguez, said the program built on the university’s long history of working with teachers in specialised training.

“Since 2008 we’ve graduated more than 400 mathematics teachers through our retraining program, in some cases supported by NSW Department of Education scholarships,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity to have this program taken up systemically by the Department.”

Learn more about the Maths Retraining Program and Maths Mentoring Program on the department’s website.

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