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National Tutoring Programme

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Maths CPD For Primary Teachers: How You Can Learn, Progress And Grow On The Cheap!

Everyone wants something for nothing these days, and the same can certainly be said with regards to maths CPD for primary teachers.

Budgets may be getting ever tighter, but post-austerity CPD is no different from pre-austerity CPD in that effective schools have always been committed to getting the best value.

Be Warned Though, Value Doesn’t Always Equal Quality When It Comes To Cheap Or Free CPD For Teachers

In an ideal world value should equate to quality, but as you will know if you’ve been on a less than perfect CPD course, this can’t always be guaranteed.

Whole-school CPD is an expensive business and it can often be a waste of money if you get a dud presenter or the content is completely irrelevant to your attempts to raise school attainment.

Worst still, the CPD many schools buy into is bandwagon stuff that you fall for hook, line and sinker without really looking at the evidence.

Take Brain Gym for example, how many schools fell for that?!

Pressure Is On School Leaders To Find The Right Maths CPD For Primary Teachers

School leaders have to have a business-head for CPD but unfortunately, some school leaders are poorly informed with ‘little pounds and pence’ experience and often make misguided CPD decisions.

All teachers should have access to vibrant professional development that helps them grow and their children succeed.

However, research by the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) found over 21,000 teachers are employed in schools which report zero or near-zero CPD budget.

It was also found that schools rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted spend around 20% less on CPD than other schools, as a proportion of their total budget.

Secondary schools on average spent 0.37% of their budgets on staff training and 0.65% in primary schools.

Something has to be done to change this, but with the purse strings remaining closed, it is time to alter our approach as teachers to CPD.


The Different Types Of Cheap/Free CPD For Teachers You Will Find In This Blog

To help you navigate this blog post and find the type of maths CPD you are looking for quickly, we’ve added some navigational links below. Simply click on the section that seems most appealing to you, and you’ll be taken straight there!

  1. Conferences
  2. TeachMeets
  3. Online CPD For Teachers
  4. Third Space Learning Maths Hub CPD
  5. In School CPD
  6. The Staffroom
  7. Subject Associations
  8. Maths Hubs
  9. Professional Bodies
  10. Programmes Of Study
  11. Podcasts
  12. Twitter
  13. Blogging And Ted Talks

DIY CPD Could Be The Answer To Our Prayers

Schools obviously have a major responsibility to develop their staff but this isn’t a one-way process.

Teachers have to develop themselves too.

If money is tight at school then this shouldn’t mean game over. There is a whole host of CPD ‘out there’, and an awful lot of it within the teaching community too.  

This means that on an individual level, DIY CPD has never been easier or more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, if you don’t know where to look It can still be expensive though, so some clever thinking is called for.

That is why we have put together a number of teacher CPD examples to help you do maths CPD on the cheap, and grow your own skills without depleting any of the schools remaining budget.

The Third Space Learning Maths Hub

Get access to 100's of CPD resources & videos and take a look at the huge variety of maths downloads available in the TSL Maths Hub.

CPD On The Cheap: Conferences   

There is a whole host of great maths CPD on offer at national conferences, but it is worth remembering from the outset that you will still have to factor in additional costs such as the cost of:

  • Attending;
  • Travel;
  • Food and drinks;
  • And accommodation

Even with that being said, if you take advantage of ‘early bird delegate rates’ and plan your trip carefully then some conferences can certainly prove to be worth their weight in gold and you can learn a lot!

Examples of some conferences that offer the right balance of affordability and quality are:

  • Primary Rocks
  • Southern Rocks
  • Northern Rocks
  • researchEd
  • breweEd

Now of course this is not an extensive list, and there are new local events and conferences cropping up all across the country all of the time. To keep up with these conferences take a look at Eventbright and Future Learn.

National Conferences Can Be Valuable Too, If You Find The Right Ones

There is some great maths CPDfor primary teachers on offer at national conferences (some are 3-days long), and whilst there you’ll have loads of opportunities to expand your CPD. This means that whilst they can be more expensive than smaller local conferences, they can be good value given the sessions on offer and the networking you can throw yourself into.     

Don’t give up on the idea of attending a national conference as you may be able to get funding if you ask nicely but more importantly, if you make a good case for it.

The Mathematical Association have helped with this dilemma and have produced some helpful information including a pro forma justification letter that you can present to your Head. Head over to the MA website here to find out more.  

The letter can easily be tweaked and edited to include what you want to say but say it you must – if you don’t ask then you don’t get.   

Conferences offer high quality, nationally recognised CPD so you’d be crazy to miss out on attending as they are a networking dream and give you the chance to spend time with like-minded maths mates.

You get to meet teachers from across the country and further afield, discover new teaching ideas, hear from inspirational speakers and you’ll leave with new ideas, tools and a super-charged passion for maths.

Conferences are wonderful for sharing, ‘subtracting’ and yes, stealing ideas – that’s the whole point. We go to probe, plunder and fill out mental suitcases with whatever we can.

Conferences Can Also Be A Chance For You To Take Centre Stage And Test Your Knowledge

If you really want to improve your CPD then why not offer a session of your own?

Conferences will invite participants to offer workshops at their events and this can be a really rewarding part of CPD that benefits both  you and the conference as a whole.

I remember presenting my first sessions at ATM and MA conferences on Concept Cartoons in Maths and Formative Assessment in Maths and this fine-tuned my thinking and practice in so many ways.       

By offering sessions you end up in a CPD cycle of win-win.

Not only are you making your own CPD and improving your own teaching, you are having an impact on others. Don’t worry about messing up either – subject specific delegates are on your side and are there to support you every inch of the way.  

Preparing presentations to your peers involves time and effort, plenty of research, reading, revision and, potentially, data collection. It keeps you current, channels your mind on what’s important, best practice and future improvements.

This can all be done at little or no cost, and is a fantastic way to do some DIY CPD on the cheap!

CPD On The Cheap: TeachMeets

Teachers sharing ideas with teachers is no longer something you predominantly do within your own school environment.  

The format is great: arrange a venue, meet up, listen to short presentations from each other and socialise whilst sharing practical ideas.

Teachers understand teachers which is why so many are willing to share best practice and ideas for free. These are very informal events and can be a great way of earning your maths spurs in a safe and supportive environments.

There is normally a choice of 2 or 7 minute presentation slots and those attending can pitch in or just come along and listen.  Some teachers say that TeachMeets are some of the best CPD they ever experience because they are short, sharp, snappy and sociable.

One of the more sociable teacher CPD examples, there is a reason why TeachMeets are so popular!

CPD On The Cheap: Online CPD For Teachers

The internet is an absolute treasure trove of CPD delights, and the cherry on the cake here is that most of these resources are free/very cheap.

Some of the best online CPD for teachers comes in the form of videos that are presented by practising teachers. This is a great way to continue your own personal growth, as you know that this information is fresh and relevant to the teaching landscape of today.

Youtube alone is a fantastic way to do CPD on the cheap, as almost all of us now have access to either a phone, computer or tablet and this (along with a notepad and pen) is the only piece of equipment you’ll need to learn.

There are a number of fantastic channels and videos out there, but two great ones to get you started are Oxford Education with their Inspire Maths series, and one that you may not have seen yet, Maths 4 Kids, which is masterminded by Primary Maths Lead Emma Johnson and stars her daughter Amber.  This is a great channel to show the children in your class and will no doubt spark some ideas and discussion!

There has never been a better time to look for maths CPD if you are a primary teacher!

Third Space Learning Has A Dedicated Library Of Online Maths CPD Resources That Are Affordable For Schools

Here at Third Space Learning we have managed to gather a large collection of maths CPD resources and videos all in one place with the goal of making things as simple as possible for busy teachers.

Our maths CPD library can be found in the Third Space Maths Hub and here you’ll find content on everything from maths lesson observations through to a beginner’s guide to heuristics being presented by teachers from all across the curriculum.

Examples of some of the video content you will be able to find in the Maths Hub includes:

  • How to Convert Mixed Numbers to Improper Fractions (Abstract)
  • Bar Modelling: The Basics Explained
  • How to Turn Maths Progress Around in Your School Using Mental Maths
  • The Tips and Tricks to Great SATs Preparation
  • How to Make Best Use of Your Teaching Assistants for SATs

As well as hosting more than 150 maths CPD videos, within the Maths Hub you will also find a vast array of downloadle CPD resources on everything from How to Choose your Maths Scheme of Work through to The Ultimate Guide to Maths Manipulatives.

Primary Teacher CPD Examples

We want to help teacher progress and strive for improvement, and that is why we have made the Maths Hub as affordable as we possibly can.

Our subscriptions are done on a whole-school basis so as well as getting access to our CPD library for yourself, all of your colleagues will also be able to access everything on the Maths Hub, including the premium resources that are on there.

To find out more about how you can gain access to all of the resources that can be found in the Maths Hub Premium, visit this page to sign up and learn more.

Alongside the CPD resources there are 100’s of other maths based resources available, including the ready made White Rose Style Lesson PowerPoints you may have seen on social media, so sign up today for access to them all!

CPD On The Cheap: In School CPD

This is one of the more simple teacher CPD examples!

Presenting a training session ‘in-house’ at school fits the same bill as presenting at a conference – don’t shirk it, actively seek it and everyone reaps CPD rewards.

If you are a maths subject leader you’ll be doing this anyway, if not then team-up with the maths coordinator and co-present to your colleagues on a hot topic, latest idea or initiative.

This doesn’t have to be formal and an hour long – it might just be a few minutes as part of a staff meeting or dedicated training day.

The point is to squeeze in some in school CPD as and when you can, as the rewards of simply sharing the knowledge that already exists within your school will prove invaluable! If you are on the lookout for free CPD for teachers, then this is a great place to start. 

CPD On The Cheap: The Staffroom

Never underestimate the power of the staffroom as a force for good, informal CPD.

Although a place of relaxation, staffroom culture has changed over the years and these are working environments that can be used to share ideas and promote initiatives.

Some staffrooms have ideas boards where staff can post ‘golden nuggets’ for others to see. These might be links to a new resource, a website, an idea or strategy.

Busy teachers might not always make it to the staffroom for anymore than a few minutes but these are learning spaces where just a single conversation with a colleague can change the way you do things.      

A school that understands the value of informal CPD makes their staffroom a hub to not just grab a coffee and some cake but a place to advertise ideas and share best practice.

Never underestimate the power of a good natter and staffrooms are just one way of harnessing the power of sharing – why not walk and talk at lunchtime if you aren’t able to stop in the staffroom and get some much needed fresh air, exercise and CPD.

CPD On The Cheap: Subject Associations

If your CV doesn’t already include membership of a subject association then it’s probably time to give it some serious thought.

They can offer you so much and they are a valuable component in your professional development.

They enable you to be part of a subject community, they keep you up to date in your subject, you get access to dedicated resources and expertise and you can pursue your own learning. Membership is a professional way of life, a sense of community, support and goldmine of development.

I strongly urge you to join a maths association because the CPD on offer through a subject dedicated organisation is enormous.

Joining up comes at a price but there are ways to join that can cut the cost dramatically. Individual membership is one way to do it and a personal membership subscription is  tax deductible, making it more value for money.

Another route is to opt for school membership or better still, as a cluster and you’ll make even greater savings.

Whichever path you take the membership benefits are loaded in your favour, and they do represent great value for money.

Membership is a golden CPD ticket in many respects because you get plenty thrown at you including:

  • Copies of a specialist maths magazine or journal;
  • Discounts at conferences;
  • Electronic access to literally thousands of articles;
  • Members-only resources;
  • Professional support and enrichment;
  • Regular newsletters and news briefings containing all the latest keeping you in the loop;
  • A network of local branches offering regular meetings;
  • Accreditation – in the case of the ATM, members can apply for the CMaths Teach Designation making membership the route to Chartered Mathematics Teaching status;
  • Vote on resolutions, have a voice and be heard so you can shape the direction of the organisation and subject.;
  • The opportunity to work in small groups investigating specific aspects of mathematics or teaching.

Membership really is worth every penny, so remember to look out for joining offers too where organisations give away free books or e-book packs.

Special Mention – One thing to really look out for when joining a maths association is the video content that is available. Some of the videos on these platforms are invaluable when looking to do CPD on the cheap as they give you incredible content at very affordable costs. One of the best video collections comes from the NCETM, and this video series below on multiplication is a fantastic place to start.

CPD On The Cheap: Maths HUBS

Not to be confused with the Third Space Learning Maths Hub, belonging to a Maths Hub is a sure-fire way of developing your maths impact.

There are 35 Hubs across the country that work together as part of a collaborative network coordinated by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics  (NCETM), which is a rich source of Maths CPD in themselves.

The Maths Hubs bring together professionals from every maths nook and cranny and are brilliant examples of living and breathing maths partnerships.

Each Hub is led locally by an outstanding school to develop and spread best practice. The great thing about being involved in a Maths Hub is that you get access to free or subsidised CPD programmes, the chance to keep your finger on the pulse about local maths initiatives and to participate in a network of local leaders of maths education (LLME).   

Maths Hubs are a rich source of inspiration because their sole purpose is to build capacity and they connect with a range of partners including Teaching Schools; mathematics Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs); NCETM CPD Standard holders; NCETM accredited Professional Development Leads; universities; subject associations; and employers.

What more could you want during your search for maths CPD as a primary teacher?

You can find your local Maths Hub here.

CPD On The Cheap: Professional Bodies

Access dedicated maths websites or professional development bodies websites and take all of the knowledge and wisdom you possibly can from them:  

  • NCETM – There is plenty to access here including self-evaluation tools to check your maths understanding relevant to what you are teaching and ways to explore ideas on how to develop your practice.
  • Chartered College of Teaching – The professional body for the teaching profession is packed with insights including teacher and school evidence-engagement and self-assessment toolkits.
  • The Teacher Development Trust – This charity was founded in 2012 by David Weston and Mark McCourt and as well as being a fantastic place for teacher to go to with regards to CPD, they also wrote the seminal document on good CPD which you can take a look at here.

More sources of inspiration can be found at the following sites where cheap or free Maths CPD is readily available:

  • Adults Learning Mathematics
  • Association of Mathematics Education Teachers
  • British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics
  • British Society for the History of Mathematics
  • Conference of Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences
  • Institute of Mathematics and its Applications
  • The Mathematical Association
  • Mathematics in Education and Industry
  • National Association for Numeracy and Mathematics in Colleges
  • National Association of Mathematics Advisers
  • National Numeracy
  • NRICH (on behalf of the Millennium Mathematics Project)
  • Operational Research Society
  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Royal Statistical Society
  • STEM Learning
  • Third Space Learning Maths Hub
  • United Kingdom Mathematics Trust
  • Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences

CPD On The Cheap: Programmes Of Study

Studying for a Masters is going to cost you an arm and a leg but you don’t have to go down this route.

Why not study online and take some free courses?

There’s lots available through many of the organisations above or through  Future Learn (although it can be a bit tricky to navigate). Something that you may find to be slightly easier might be to check out the short, online professional development courses that STEM have to offer online as there is a lot here that is very useful.

And There’s More Teacher CPD Examples…

What else can you do day to day, weekly or monthly that counts as CPD?  

It’s easy to overlook the obvious but there are plenty of things you can do to grow and accelerate your CPD and the majority of opportunities don’t even involve leaving the house or spending money.

Podcasts

For CPD on the go then podcasts are great. These have been around for some time now and are as popular as ever.

Plenty of colleagues I know listen to these when out on a run, taking the dog for a walk, driving, etc.

I use them as a ‘learning walk’ and plug into those that are devoted to evidence-based practice and learning and of course maths.

Head over to TES Podagogy, Learning Scientists, Plus, NCETM podcast, Kelly Long’s Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast,  and Craig Barton’s maths podcast, where you can turn “useless time into CPD time”. 

Other good examples of podcasts that can be used for CPD are Two P’s In A Pod With Mr P, and the Pivotal Podcast. Recent highlights on Pivotal have included an in-depth discussion with behaviour management supremo, Bill Rogers, with practical advice on how you can ensure your classroom is a warmer, safer place where children are better prepared for their learning. Similarly, Mr P has created a low-cost CPD subscription service which teachers can access by becoming a ‘Supporter’ on Facebook, picking up ways to turbocharge teaching and learning with time-, energy- and money-saving technological solutions.

Podcasts are full of insights, professional challenges and creative resolutions that really do help you think differently and grow as a teacher. They are another fantastic source of free CPD for teachers.

A good place to start is Mr Barton’s Maths Podcast, and episodes that are particularly good are the ones with Bernie Westacott and Helen Williams, and if you are looking for a rundown of the best teacher podcasts, Third Space have you covered there!

Twitter

Social media has changed the way teachers engage with CPD.

Never has it been so easy to tap into expertise, research, thinking, policy, strategy and opinions.

Twitter in particular has become the go-to platform to informally connect with educators from around the world, and it can be a fantastic source of online CPD for teachers.

You can find a hashtag for whatever your specialism is… If you’re a primary teacher #primaryrocks will be a treasure trove of teaching ideas, if you’re a senior leader #SLTchat will be a doorway into professional development, if you work in international education look no further than #SuperbSchools a monthly twitter chat that is led by John McCance (@AlbaMcCance) and is a fantastic monthly event for international school teachers with guest including the likes of Daisy Christodoulou.

Twitter has revolutionised CPD because if you have your phone with you then you can access CPD on the bus, in the kitchen, on your sofa, having a haircut, etc.

Some teachers make it their mission to access and interact with Twitter multiple times a day and post thoughts, experiences and questions as well as share ideas, pick up tips and promote strategies.

Whittaker, Casasas and Zoul (2015) in their brilliant book What Connected Educators Do Differently, offer plenty of advice for using Twitter as a positive and powerful vehicle for CPD.

They talk about the importance of starting and cultivating a professional or personal learning network (PLN) and Twitter plays a big part in this.

Investing time in following a range of educators and investing time contributing meaningful Tweets yourself is CPD for free.

Twitter is a rich rainforest of CPD and growing a network of professional colleagues with whom you can interact with. Sharing ideas here is effortless, and there are a plethora of resources to be had for free.

Blogging

Writing about your subject passions used to be quite hard work for most teachers as only a select few would get slots in newspapers and magazines, but this is certainly not the case anymore.

Today, news media has literally flung open their doors to teachers and welcome new writers onto their websites to share their ideas, opinions and feelings.

It’s commonplace now for teachers to blog for the places like Third Space Learning and The Guardian, and many have used it to sharpen their thinking, develop their ideas and grow their profiles.

Some teachers have even become ‘celebrity teachers’ as a result of their edu-blogging and regularly get invited to conferences to speak. Writing in itself is a CPD win-win because you are continually feeding your own development and possibly influencing others in the process.

Many teachers have their own personal websites and blogging sites where they can explore their own thinking and share with others, and these are valuable opportunities to grow as a professional, polish your craft, feed your brain and expand your development.  

Writing articles for professional journals is also something you could consider – the content requirements and protocols tend to be much tighter and more stringent but this is a different type of writing that can push you to develop in new ways.  

TED Talks And Videos

If you are looking to be inspired by some great teachers then take a look at some brilliant TED Talks and learn from the best. Sir Ken Robinson’s creativity talk has been watched nearly 50 million times! He also picks his top ten and there is plenty more inspiration here.

Talking of video, more free CPD can be found on via the old Teachers TV which can be accessed via various sources – there are 3,500 videos to access with plenty of ‘still relevant’ maths ones to learn from.

It’s Important To Not Get Overwhelmed By The Sheer Volume Of Teacher CPD Examples Out There….

When you start digging you will find that the sheer volume of CPD available to you is enormous and this doesn’t have to cost much if anything at all.

The trick is to select what works for you and don’t attempt to do everything because you won’t have the time.

Focus on what interests you, focus on what impact it can make in your classroom and school and focus on enjoyment.

Dipping in and out of CPD is what works for many teachers as it can fit around all your other commitments, so customise to suit your own needs.     

If you are a senior leader then jump on the online CPD audit via TDT (http://tdtrust.org/cpd-quality-audit) and do a “temperature check” of your own CPD.

With so many CPD opportunities to access that can feed into your professional development record there really is no excuse for a professional development drought.    

The bottom line is don’t go busting your own budget on expensive CPD workshops – they aren’t the be all and end all, especially when there is so much free CPD staring you in the face!

Progress Your CPD With The Third Space Learning Maths Hub

As mentioned above, the Third Space Maths Hub has been designed to provide teachers and educators with access to high quality CPD and maths resources at an affordable rate.

These resources have been designed to help schools raise attainment in maths for all pupils, and it is extremely easy to set up an account if you want to use all of the resources we have available.

To find out more about the Third Space Learning Maths Hub and how you can sign up, take a look at our resources page which is packed with all of the information you’ll need!

Further Reading

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John Dabell
John Dabell
Former School Inspector
Teacher
John is a trained Ofsted inspector and a teacher with over 20 years experience teaching Maths across all key stages.
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The Third Space Learning Maths Hub

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The Third Space Learning Maths Hub

Get access to 100's of CPD resources & videos and take a look at the huge variety of maths downloads available in the TSL Maths Hub.

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