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Course content

The University of Northampton is passionate about transforming children’s lives and inspiring change. Our Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Mathematics Specialist programme has the ambitious target of ensuring that every school in our region has access to a teacher trained at Masters level.

The programme is a two-year Masters level course through which participating teachers extend their knowledge, skills and understanding of mathematics and related pedagogy, and develop the skills to support other colleagues in mathematics. The University of Northampton has been successfully leading the programme across a wide range of local authorities since 2009, with over 640 successful graduates.

This course is for serving teachers and aims to transform teaching and learning in mathematics. Each teacher develops their own subject and pedagogical knowledge. No pre-existing specialist knowledge of mathematics is assumed, so this course is suitable for all teachers of primary mathematics. Within this course there is a strong focus on promoting reasoning and problem solving in primary mathematics. This course will provide teachers with the professional recognition of specialist teacher of mathematics and enhance confidence in teaching and leading the subject. Teachers currently on the programme have found it rewarding and stimulating.

Course content

The course provides Masters level professional development for teachers in the curriculum area of mathematics. The content is focused on developing connectionist pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning in primary mathematics. This programme is especially relevant since it focuses on developing aspects such as fluency, reasoning and mastery that reflects current government agendas. The aims of the course provide opportunities for the teachers to:
-Broaden and deepen mathematics subject and pedagogical knowledge through critically analysing the connections and structures within mathematics.
-Deepen understanding of how pupils develop understanding of mathematics through analysing mathematical thinking and reasoning with a range of pedagogical approaches.
-Critically analyse and evaluate their own and their pupils’ learning of mathematical thinking and reasoning.
-Develop professional collaborative and leadership skills using a peer coaching approach to improve teaching and learning of mathematics in their school.
-Further develop leadership skills by undertaking a whole-schoold evelopment project to improve a particular aspect of mathematics teaching and learning within their own school.

Course modules (16/17)

-Subject and Pedagogical Knowledge in the Teaching of algebra and geometry
-Subject and Pedagogical Knowledge in the Teaching of number, calculation, measures and data handling

Methods of Learning

The course covers several methods of study which include:
-Face-to-face university-led tutition delivered through two residential weekend events. (These are included in the tuition fees for the accomodation and meals) Regular local network meetings each year.
-Autonomous learning is an important aspect of masters level study. This is achieved through work at the University and at school including: directed mathematical tasks pedagogical research.
-Engagement with online materials such as library resources.
-Engagement with online discussions and face to face discussions.
-Analytical and critical approaches to relating theory to practice with particular reference to work in school.


-Teaching activities, workshops and seminars, online tutorial and support: 30 study hours
-Directed tasks and network sessions: 50 study hours
-Directed reading: 50 study hours
-Self-directed study: 70 study hours
-Assessment activity: 100 study hours

The teaching activities and workshops are achieved mainly through two weekend residential events each year (making four weekends altogether). For 2016-17 the first two residential weekends are on 5th/6th November 2016 and 4th/5th March 2017.


The first year of the programme has two assignments. The first is a reflective discussion of your own mathematical learning with an activity, which you then relate to children’s learning for the same activity. The second assignment is a small project to coach or mentor a colleague within school. For this assignment you will reflect on the impact on teaching and learning for the colleague but also on your own development as a leader of mathematics in school.

The second year has one assignment. This is a small-scale research project that develops an aspect of mathematics across your school. You will use and reflect upon approaches to teaching and learning from the course to improve an aspect of mathematics in your own school. You will also present your whole-school project with a small presentation at the final network meeting. For all of the assignments you will receive personal tutorials and feedback on draft assignments.

Facilities and Special Features

The key feature of this course, and the main reason for its success, is that this programme provides a direct impact upon teaching and learning across the whole school. While this is continuing professional development for one teacher, there is a process of enabling the teacher to lead change in mathematics teaching across the whole school.


This programme allows teachers to gain a Post Graduate Certificate in mathematics specialist teaching. It has enabled teachers to gain recognition as excellent teachers and leaders of primary mathematics teaching and learning. Some teachers have progressed and gained employment specifically as leaders of mathematics in schools. Others have set up their own companies producing teaching and learning resources based on the principles of the programme. Some teachers have also gained further modules towards a full masters degree. This year some of the first graduates of this programme will be receiving their Masters Degree in Mathematics Education.

Visit the Primary Maths Postgraduate Certificate PGCert page on the University of Northampton website for more details!






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