Teaching A-level in Early Career: Induction, Support and Professional Learning

Smith, Cathy and Golding, Jennie (2018). Teaching A-level in Early Career: Induction, Support and Professional Learning. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, 37(2) pp. 55–68.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/teamat/hry007


There is considerable interest within mathematics teacher education in mapping the career development of teachers. Although there is agreement that professional learning is embedded in workplace practice, there has been little attention to the effect of variations within the teaching profile. This paper focuses on pre-university mathematics and its contribution to teacher development in the early career stage. Our longitudinal multiple-case study mapped induction for A-level teaching in England, and identified opportunities and demands that led to professional learning. We found a common understanding of such teaching as a privilege. Teachers experienced rapidly reducing formal support, with little mentoring directed at reflective development of A-level teaching, and claimed this limited their growth as teachers. However, A-level teaching offered professional learning opportunities complementary to those offered by teaching of earlier mathematics: teachers came to better appreciate connections within mathematics, and the need for development of rigour and deep conceptual foundations, as well as deepening their own mathematical knowledge.

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