Maths teachers in Ireland to get upskilling via new diploma

25 May 2012

A new national initiative to upskill secondary school maths teachers in Ireland has been announced today by the Department of Education & Skills. Up to 400 places will be open for maths teachers to start a free upskilling course at various locations around the country, starting in the autumn.

The Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today announced the funding for the part-time professional diploma in mathematics for teaching.

The Government has given €2m to fund the national programme for upskilling out-of-field teachers of maths over the next three years.

The National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning (NCE-MSTL), which is based at the University of Limerick (UL), will be responsible for devising the curriculum for the diploma, which will be jointly accredited by UL and NUI Galway.

In 2010, a NCE-MSTL report found that 48pc of maths teachers teaching at post-primary level had no qualification in maths teaching.  

NCE-MSTL’s director, Prof John O’Donoghue, described the new diploma as being a “historic step” in Ireland’s moves to reform post-primary maths.

“Ireland’s urgent need to raise science and mathematics knowledge and skills in order to serve critical national educational, economic and entrepreneurial needs is well documented,” he said.

O’Donoghue said the programme would zero in on helping teachers focus on subject knowledge and practice to stimulate students’ interest in maths and science.

Programme delivery

The NCE-MSTL is leading a consortium of higher education institutions that will deliver the programme so teachers can head to a set of locations around the country.

These locations will include NUI Galway, University College Dublin, St Patrick’s College, Thurles and the institutes of technology in Sligo, Tallaght, Carlow, Cork, Dundalk, Letterkenny and Waterford.   

Sherlock said the course would facilitate teachers who are working during the day, with local and online access.

Google to research blended learning

Google Ireland is also partnering with NCE-MSTL on the course and will be looking into how teachers can apply technology in the classroom through blended learning in order to engage students.

“Government, industry and academia all agree on the need for more students to study maths, science and engineering subjects at third level and on the need to produce graduates with strong analytical and problem-solving skills,” said John Herlihy, VP of global advertising and head of Google in Ireland.

Herlihy said he felt providing out-of-field teachers with the specialised skills to teach maths would be catalyst for more students pursuing maths-based subjects at third level.

The programme will be offered free to eligible teachers starting in September. The Department of Education & Skills said applications are being accepted from 30 May.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic