Contracting out could resolve the expected long term scarcity of advanced maths teachers


Patslatt1

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Mathematics is the key to the sciences and engineering. If Ireland is to achieve ambitions in ICT, information and communications technology which are vital areas of the economy, strong foundations in secondary school maths teaching are essential.

However,it will continue to be difficult for secondary schools to attract a sufficient number of teachers of advanced maths in competition with business. With the continued growth in the computer industry and in computerised trading in financial derivatives and financial securities, there will continue to be numerous job openings in those industries for mathematicians on very high commercial salaries for the foreseeable future.

Schools could resolve this expected long term scarcity of maths teachers if they were allowed like hospitals to contract out the service. Hospitals contract for the services of hospital consultants and agency nurses to cover scarcities of staff and schools could do so too.

Contracting out would allow schools to raise the pay of maths teachers to compete with commercial rates of pay. As contractors,maths teachers would not be permanent employees with civil service pension rights and job security. That disadvantage would tend to keep experienced existing salaried teachers from joining contractors.

Another disadvantage for contractors is that they might be required to teach in different schools depending on local needs.

Naturally, trade unions would prefer if all teacher salaries were raised to a far higher level needed to attract sufficient maths teachers but that would be totally unrealistic.
 

mhagain

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Just like contracting out solved issues with school building and cervical cancer checks, eh Pat?
 

Beachcomber

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Mathematics is the key to the sciences and engineering. If Ireland is to achieve ambitions in ICT, information and communications technology which are vital areas of the economy, strong foundations in secondary school maths teaching are essential.

However,it will continue to be difficult for secondary schools to attract a sufficient number of teachers of advanced maths in competition with business. With the continued growth in the computer industry and in computerised trading in financial derivatives and financial securities, there will continue to be numerous job openings in those industries for mathematicians on very high commercial salaries for the foreseeable future.

Schools could resolve this expected long term scarcity of maths teachers if they were allowed like hospitals to contract out the service. Hospitals contract for the services of hospital consultants and agency nurses to cover scarcities of staff and schools could do so too.

Contracting out would allow schools to raise the pay of maths teachers to compete with commercial rates of pay. As contractors,maths teachers would not be permanent employees with civil service pension rights and job security. That disadvantage would tend to keep experienced existing salaried teachers from joining contractors.

Another disadvantage for contractors is that they might be required to teach in different schools depending on local needs.

Naturally, trade unions would prefer if all teacher salaries were raised to a far higher level needed to attract sufficient maths teachers but that would be totally unrealistic.

Who would fill these contract positions?

Are you saying that maths people who are already getting "commercial rates of pay" would:
1) be able to teach maths at the drop of a hat
2) be interested in taking contract jobs that (like most contract jobs) wouldn't provide the things that you mention (civil service pension rights and job security) and don't mention (health, dental and insurance benefits)?

Maybe you think that there are masses of unemployed maths people out there who are simply waiting to be treated like sh*t as most contractors are.
 

wombat

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Being good at a subject does not mean that you can teach it. The LC maths is broad and shallow whereas those using maths in industry tend to have in depth knowledge of a very narrow range. Whether teachers are on staff or contract is not the issue.
 

Patslatt1

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Just like contracting out solved issues with school building and cervical cancer checks, eh Pat?
Civil servants here and the UK were innocents abroad in negotiating financially complicated leases on school buildings. In comparison,labour contracts have been negotiated well for many years by hospitals.
 

Patslatt1

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Being good at a subject does not mean that you can teach it. The LC maths is broad and shallow whereas those using maths in industry tend to have in depth knowledge of a very narrow range. Whether teachers are on staff or contract is not the issue.
The issue is schools can't afford to pay all teachers in all subjects the high salaries that would be needed to fill the advanced maths teaching positions.
 

Patslatt1

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Who would fill these contract positions?

Are you saying that maths people who are already getting "commercial rates of pay" would:
1) be able to teach maths at the drop of a hat
2) be interested in taking contract jobs that (like most contract jobs) wouldn't provide the things that you mention (civil service pension rights and job security) and don't mention (health, dental and insurance benefits)?

Maybe you think that there are masses of unemployed maths people out there who are simply waiting to be treated like sh*t as most contractors are.
Hospital consultants, many construction engineers and software professionals are happy to work on contracts. Maths contractors could be attracted from abroad if the supply is scarce here.
 

__e621

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Hospital consultants, many construction engineers and software professionals are happy to work on contracts. Maths contractors could be attracted from abroad if the supply is scarce here.
Yes, many of them are happy to work on contracts, but that is generally because of the higher rates these people would normally expect to get precisely because they are in such demand.

And, because they do not have the same employment rights as a permanent pensionable employee they need to fund their own pensions and put money aside for those rainy days when contract demand drops - something an employee either doesn't worry about (say in the public sector) or as they may be due redundancy money if laid off.

If you offer zero-hours contracts at supermarket warehouse rates, don't be too surprised when those mathematics PhD holders don't hammer down the door of the local secondary school begging to teach the brats whose older brothers probably beat them up 10 years previously.
 

Patslatt1

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Yes, many of them are happy to work on contracts, but that is generally because of the higher rates these people would normally expect to get precisely because they are in such demand.

And, because they do not have the same employment rights as a permanent pensionable employee they need to fund their own pensions and put money aside for those rainy days when contract demand drops - something an employee either doesn't worry about (say in the public sector) or as they may be due redundancy money if laid off.

If you offer zero-hours contracts at supermarket warehouse rates, don't be too surprised when those mathematics PhD holders don't hammer down the door of the local secondary school begging to teach the brats whose older brothers probably beat them up 10 years previously.
The contract maths teachers would have to be offered pay substantially higher than civil service teachers pay to attract them on a contract basis.
 

making waves

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Patslatt is doing his usual crap on the public sector bullsh*t
 

twokidsmanybruises

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Eh, if there's a shortage of maths teachers in Ireland, rather than "outsourcing" ( which seems to be used to say "get people to teach maths who have no training of, or experience or interest in, teaching ), why not advertise the vacancies to experienced maths teachers based in other EU countries?

As they'd 1) be mathematicians and 2) would be experienced teachers. A C2= level of English would be required but, guess what, a hell of a lot of non-native English speaking maths teachers are already at that level, as teaching STEM subjects through English is already very popular in many EU countries, as is the International Baccalaureate secondary school qualifiaction.

Wild and crazy idea, I know.

Is this another one of these threads where people who have very little contact with teaching or education feel the need to point out how to "fix" the education system?
 

wombat

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Is this another one of these threads where people who have very little contact with teaching or education feel the need to point out how to "fix" the education system?
This is not a good place for thin skinned teachers. Since we all went to school, we all think we can make relevant comments on any education thread. In my case, I studied maths to quite a high level. I also tried coaching my sister in the subject when she was doing her LC and found I can't teach which is why I made the point that being good at a subject does not mean you can teach it.
 

jmcc

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Mathematics is the key to the sciences and engineering. If Ireland is to achieve ambitions in ICT, information and communications technology which are vital areas of the economy, strong foundations in secondary school maths teaching are essential.
There is a fundamental and quite fatal flaw in your argument. LC Maths is not "advanced" Maths. Many maths teachers are not mathematicians. They are just school teachers teaching a course.

As for your argument applying to ICT, the basics of Programming are actually so simple that kids have already learned them before they start school. There's a lot of very good introductions to Programming with very well designed software (Scratch from MIT.edu for example) that allow these concepts to be taught easily.
 

SideysGhost

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Is this another one of these threads where people who have very little contact with teaching or education feel the need to point out how to "fix" the education system?
Meh it's a patslatt thread. He has very little contact with reality, never mind the education system.

He's one of those bonkers True Believers in laissez-faire Free Market slogans from the 1980s that just don't work in the real world. Because they are mostly childish and cartoonish slogans that just don't take into account the messiness that is the real world. But like all True Believers, it doesn't matter how often loony right-wing policies disastrously fail. It's never the fault of the policy itself, it was a brilliant policy that was undermined by those pesky lefties/greenies/women/muslims/etc. And if everyone just Believed really really hard the invisible hand of the sacred Market would solve everything.

Also like most of the most fundamentalist right-wingers, he seems to have very very little actual experience in the real world in any sort of real job in business or industry. It's a weird phenomenon, but it's been a trueism since the long-ago days of Reagan and Thatcher - most of the hardcore rightwing ideologues that blether on about trickle-down supply-side free-market economics have never had a real job.

They are either rich trust-fund kiddies coasting through life on daddy's money and contacts, or unemployable loons screeching from some damp basement somewhere.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Something that puzzled both the brother and myself was that neither of us liked mathematics at school. And assumed we just weren't very good at it.

But years later we realised in our very different careers that we both use maths to a considerable degree (the brother more than myself I'd say) and we are both fascinated by mathematics as it relates to physics and the sciences in general.

Looking back on it I don't recall ever being told in school what the useful real world application of the formulae, the algebra, or anything else was on our mathematics curriculum.

It was all 'learn this bit off' and not a word about the use of maths in navigation, or looking at the planet around us, or the night sky or stars or anything that might make maths even lightly appealing to a young mind. Both of us went for years thinking we just didn't have the aptitude for maths.

Now he's a computer scientist by profession and I give occasional talks for professionals in which there is an element of realistic maths- deductive reasoning based on maths and probability based on certain dynamics and mathematics very much underpins how we make our living in one way or another.

I know the pressures teachers are under and have a certain sympathy especially for young teachers these days. But I do think any maths teacher who stands before a classroom of kids, writes mathematical rules on the board and fails to tell the classroom how that mathematical rule relates to the world around them should be taken out and shot, quite frankly.

The weird thing is that quite often the real world explanation for those weird markings on the mathematics class blackboard are left to the science teacher in the science classroom to try to explain.

There's something wrong about teaching real mechanical and operable skills as if they were theoretical. I bet many kids go through a maths course at secondary level and never get to know how mathematics and physics appear in the swerve of a football to the top corner of a goal-net, or how you could use some of those hieroglyphics to steer a boat from Galway harbour to New York harbour.

The story was missing from maths at our school. And it took us years to get past that and re-engage.
 

CatullusV

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The contract maths teachers would have to be offered pay substantially higher than civil service teachers pay to attract them on a contract basis.
Do you have the remotest idea of those rates?

OK, I'll bite. I have the quals and have worked for years as a contractor. Firstly, I charge by the hour. I calculate my rate based on various measures including contract duration, days per year etc. Every hour is billable - including out of hours work - for example, marking exams. All work outside core hours is billable at one point five times the hourly rate. If I am obliged to do things such as class preparation, marking etc at weekends, the rate goes to double the hourly cost.

The extended summer, Easter Xmas breaks are all unvillable and of a duration that does not allow me to feasibly find replacement work, therefore they represent an opportunity cost to me. Thus, I will incorporate that cost into my hourly rate. Add to that cost my overheads - my pension, my insurance, my accountant, my agency fees, and more, and the bill is rising.

Let's settle on €200 per hour and we have a deal.

For that I will offer expertise in the subject. I can not offer professional expertise in the matter of teaching, though. The psychological environment of the classroom is something I guess I'll have to pick up.

So, a high cost and a less than stellar performer. We still up for it?
 

CatullusV

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Something that puzzled both the brother and myself was that neither of us liked mathematics at school. And assumed we just weren't very good at it.

But years later we realised in our very different careers that we both use maths to a considerable degree (the brother more than myself I'd say) and we are both fascinated by mathematics as it relates to physics and the sciences in general.

Looking back on it I don't recall ever being told in school what the useful real world application of the formulae, the algebra, or anything else was on our mathematics curriculum.

It was all 'learn this bit off' and not a word about the use of maths in navigation, or looking at the planet around us, or the night sky or stars or anything that might make maths even lightly appealing to a young mind. Both of us went for years thinking we just didn't have the aptitude for maths.

Now he's a computer scientist by profession and I give occasional talks for professionals in which there is an element of realistic maths- deductive reasoning based on maths and probability based on certain dynamics and mathematics very much underpins how we make our living in one way or another.

I know the pressures teachers are under and have a certain sympathy especially for young teachers these days. But I do think any maths teacher who stands before a classroom of kids, writes mathematical rules on the board and fails to tell the classroom how that mathematical rule relates to the world around them should be taken out and shot, quite frankly.

The weird thing is that quite often the real world explanation for those weird markings on the mathematics class blackboard are left to the science teacher in the science classroom to try to explain.

There's something wrong about teaching real mechanical and operable skills as if they were theoretical. I bet many kids go through a maths course at secondary level and never get to know how mathematics and physics appear in the swerve of a football to the top corner of a goal-net, or how you could use some of those hieroglyphics to steer a boat from Galway harbour to New York harbour.

The story was missing from maths at our school. And it took us years to get past that and re-engage.
Indeed. I recall our sparse leaving cert tome (written by the Christian Brothers) started the chapter on matrices with a bare "A matrix is an ordered array of elements". Nothing more.

I use arrays to some extent, but not in the way that we were taught to manipulate them. I've used calculus a handful of times. I use set theory quite heavily.

A microbiologist friend uses maths much much more intensively than I do (including the afore-mentioned matrices). For him maths is just a hammer or a wrench in his toolbox.
 

toughbutfair

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I’d have no prob in paying 100k a year to recruit people who are good at maths to teach it.
 

Patslatt1

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Eh, if there's a shortage of maths teachers in Ireland, rather than "outsourcing" ( which seems to be used to say "get people to teach maths who have no training of, or experience or interest in, teaching ), why not advertise the vacancies to experienced maths teachers based in other EU countries?

As they'd 1) be mathematicians and 2) would be experienced teachers. A C2= level of English would be required but, guess what, a hell of a lot of non-native English speaking maths teachers are already at that level, as teaching STEM subjects through English is already very popular in many EU countries, as is the International Baccalaureate secondary school qualifiaction.

Wild and crazy idea, I know.

Is this another one of these threads where people who have very little contact with teaching or education feel the need to point out how to "fix" the education system?
If advertising for foreigners was the solution, it would have been done. Many UK teachers would be attracted by high pay and pensions here. Worth a shot just in case.
 
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