Becoming a leader of mathematics can be a daunting, but very exciting, prospect for teachers. We chatted to Marcia Gunson, a mathematics teacher in Leeds, who shared how she prepared for the challenge by attending our New and aspiring leaders of mathematics CPD.
How did you find out about the CPD?
I found out about the course, and the programme of courses offered by STEM Learning, whilst at another course for maths. Despite knowing about STEM Learning and using some of their resources, I had yet to attend their CPD.
What were you looking to get out of the New and aspiring leaders of mathematics course?
I was in my fourth year of teaching at a Leeds inner city Academy and was responsible for Year 7 catch–up. Following this, I was given the amazing (and slightly daunting) role of Area Team Leader for Maths at another Academy within the trust.
As I was very new into the teaching profession and middle leadership, I was looking for a course that would develop me as a leader. I was delighted when I found a course that specialised in mathematics leadership. Due to the fast pace nature of schools, I found that I was having to learn the role as I went along, which is another reason I felt I would benefit from CPD outside of my establishment.
How did you find the residential aspect of the course?
At first, I was quite daunted by the aspect of a residential course; would I like the accommodation? Would I be bored on an evening? However, I think a key part of the course is the residential aspect as it allowed me to focus solely on the course, with no external pressures from work or home.
I was pleasantly surprised by my accommodation and it was a real luxury having three meals a day cooked for you. During the evenings I was able to take part in further CPD, browse the extensive National STEM Learning Centre library, reflect upon my learning, and even sneak in a trip to the pub with my fellow participants!
All residential courses have an ENTHUSE bursary attached to them. How did you find the bursary process?
In the past, one of the barriers for attending CPD has been the cost. Without the ENTHUSE bursary, I would definitely not have been able to attend. I think my SLT thought I was joking at first when I explained that the bursary would cover the course, plus a little more.
Since attending, the finance department has commented how easy and stress-free the bursary process has been. This has resulted in me being able to send another three members of staff on STEM Learning CPD.
What did you take from the course and how has this impacted on your practice?
The key highlights were having time to explore my current practice and develop not only my leadership skills but my maths skills as well. I was able to create a clear vision for my department and develop the steps needed to achieve this.
My leadership and teaching practice have definitely improved and I left with a new air of confidence as my goals now felt within reach.
One of the most valuable sessions was the Ofsted session, to look at this solely from a maths perspective was crucial for me, having never been ‘ofsteded’ before as a head of department. I strongly believe that the course has given me an advantage for future interviews within leadership, as I am now a more confident and knowledgeable, a reflective leader and practitioner.
How have your students benefited from your CPD?
This year has seen our maths department’s best results in the school’s history! I strongly believe that it is due to fact that I was able to take some time out on the course and figure out the best course of action for my students.
I was able to bring back innovative and exciting teaching ideas; prior to attending the course, I am embarrassed to say that we did not use manipulatives within our department. We now have fully stocked and well-used resources thanks to the ideas I got from the National STEM Learning Centre library.
What are your next steps?
I am continuing to develop myself as a maths teacher. I am happy in my current role and want to focus the next two years on ensuring that I continue to teach my students with passion and engage them in challenging and thought-provoking tasks - many of which I get from the STEM Learning online library!
Find out more
If you are a leader of mathematics or are interested in becoming one, join us for our New and aspiring leaders of mathematics CPD and discover how you can take your department to the next level.