Mathematics in Schools

Unit aims

Places on this unit are restricted and students should complete an application form (due in on the last day of the previous summer term) and participate in an interview. Students will be informed of whether they have been selected to take the unit shortly after the interviews in October.

The aims are to enhance students' management and communication skills and their ability to analyse and learn from situations in which they are providers rather than receivers of expertise and in which they have to exercise some degree of responsibility.

Unit description

Classroom observation and assistance: Students will be matched with appropriate schools and a specific teacher in the local area. This teacher will then act as a mentor to the student during the course. Initial contact with the teacher and pupils will be as a classroom assistant, watching how the teacher handles the class, observing the level of mathematics taught and the structure of the lesson, and offering practical support to the teacher in lesson preparation or administrative work.

Teaching assistance: The teacher will assign the student with actual teaching tasks, which will be dependent on specific needs. This could include offering problem-solving coaching to a smaller group of pupils, or taking the last ten minutes of the lesson for the whole class.

Extra-curricula activities: The student may be supervised by the teacher in running an out-of-timetable activity (if appropriate), such as an after-school maths club or special coaching periods for higher ability students.

Special project: The student will devise a special project on the basis of their own assessment of what will interest or be of most use to the particular pupils they are working with, be it as part of a maths club or part of the day-to-day teaching of mathematics. The student will have to show that they can analyse a specific teaching problem, devise and prepare appropriately targeted teaching materials and then assess the success of their project and the response of the pupils.

Log book: The student will be required to keep a journal to collect evidence of their progress in working in the classroom environment and for reviewing their experiences.

Final report: The written report is intended to encourage the student to evaluate critically their progress and experiences and to determine whether or not they have achieved the targets they set for themselves at the beginning of the unit. The report should include a description of the Special Project, including content, methods, reasoning, planning, delivery and reception.

Presentation: The student will be required to give a presentation of 15 minutes on a subject relating to the school placement and the student’s experiences there. This will be assessed for content and delivery.

Learning objectives

On completion of the unit, the students will have gained a broad understanding of many of the key practical aspects of teaching mathematics in schools. The specific objectives are

  • To gain the ability to plan and carry out teaching activities with school pupils.
  • To acquire organizational and leadership skills.
  • To acquire interpersonal and communication skills.

They will have gained experience of answering questions about their subject and will be able to assess and devise appropriate ways to communicate a difficult principle or concept. The student will develop their communication skills, both in a one to one situation and when speaking to an audience. The student will be able to use these skills to address some of the problems specific to mathematics education such as the need to breakdown stereotypes of maths and mathematicians that pupils may have.

Transferable skills

Time management, interpersonal and communication skills, report writing, oral presentation.

Reading and References

Unit code: MATH35900
Level of study: H/6
Credit points: 10
Teaching block (weeks): 1 and 2 (1-24)
Lecturer: Jayne Stansfield


80 level 5 credit points plus interview and selection process



Methods of teaching

There are no formal lectures associated with this course but a mandatory 50 minute weekly meeting will take place in the second, and possibly third, term with the course lecturer and other students on the course. During this period the undergraduates will be spending time in schools and the purpose of this meeting will be to compare experiences and discuss any problems that might arise. Four or five tutorials in the first term will provide the students with an introduction to working in schools and the mathematics curriculum.  They will receive basic training in working with children and conduct in the school environment, and during the first term will be given a chance to visit the school in which they will be working. Typically, students will spend one afternoon a week in the school for 10 weeks of the second and third terms.

Methods of Assessment

The pass mark for this unit is 40.

The final mark is calculated as follows:

  • 15% weekly logbook
  • 40% 3000 word written report
  • 15% teacher assessment
  • 30% presentation

For information resit arrangements, please see the re-sit page on the intranet.

Please use these links for further information on relative weighting and marking criteria.

Further exam information can be found on the Maths Intranet.

Important information

If you fail this unit and are required to resit, reassessment will take place in theAugust/September Resit and Supplementary exam period and will be 15% logbook, 50% written report and 35% oral presentation. Note that if you have missed a substantial amount of the practical work in schools, there may be no way to reassess this unit other than to take the unit again in full in the next academic year.

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