Improving mathematical skills is a priority in England, and a series of policy levers and government change projects have focused on improving mathematical outcomes in further education (FE) in recent years. Yet little is known about the mathematics teacher workforce that supports these students on vocational and technical programmes. This paper addresses this knowledge gap by examining important features of the mathematics teacher workforce in colleges and the implications for recruitment, initial training and ongoing professional development. We report findings from a national survey targeted at all mathematics teachers in around one-sixth (N=31) of England’s general FE colleges. Teachers have transitioned into FE from three main areas: another career, curriculum area, or educational context. We discuss the varied assets and training needs of these three subgroups and argue that the mathematics teacher cohort in FE should be seen as distinct from that in either primary or secondary education. We highlight the bimodal distribution of mathematics qualifications amongst this workforce; those having level 2 mathematics qualifications being more likely to be teaching functional skills mathematics courses than GCSEs. The rapid expansion of the mathematics teacher workforce that followed the changes to the condition of funding in 2014 has come disproportionately from teachers who were previously working in schools. This, together with a trend of funnelling increasing numbers of FE students into academic mathematics rather than functional skills courses, raises important questions about the nature of mathematical education for learners on vocational and technical programmes, and the teachers thereof.
Noyes, A., Dalby, D., & Lavis, Y. (2022). Mathematics in England’s further education colleges: who is teaching what, and why it matters. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 46(10), 1347-1361. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2022.2075720