Spotlight on Work Group Leads - Developing A Level Pedagogy

A Post-16 Work Group Lead explains what's involved


Spotlight on Work Group Leads - Developing A Level Pedagogy

Work Group Leads are the people responsible for leading Maths Hubs professional development at a local level. From Early Years to Post-16, they combine a passion for professional development with expertise in teaching maths and a desire to lead system change. The professional development they provide is bespoke because they combine a real understanding of their local context with an overall picture of the national landscape for mathematics teaching. The fact Work Groups consist of small groups of teachers ensures that a Work Group Lead gets to know participants well and can adapt their offering to meet the evolving needs within the group, and they are almost always practicing teachers themselves. 

In our ‘Spotlights’ series, we meet Work Group Leads across England, in all phases, to find out more about who they are and what they offer. 

Sam Waterfield is a full-time teacher of A Level Maths, Further Maths and, occasionally, Physics at Durham Sixth Form Centre, which has over 1,800 students from over sixty secondary schools. He has worked exclusively in post-16 since 2014.

What is your current role?
Alongside my day-to-day teaching role, I am the Post-16 Lead for both Archimedes NE Maths Hub and Great North Maths Hub. Within this role, I work closely with Maths Hub and AMSP colleagues, regionally and nationally, to coordinate post-16 maths professional development opportunities in the North East.

How did you first get involved with the Maths Hubs Programme?
I am always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop my own teaching practice, both for the benefit of my students and for my own ambitions to continuously improve and learn. Through this, I have become more and more involved with the fantastic A Level Maths Work Groups, both as a participant and Work Group Lead, across Archimedes NE Maths Hub and Great North Maths Hub. This has allowed me to discuss teaching and challenge my own practice with a vast network of interested colleagues.

What was your path to becoming a Work Group Lead?
After completing my MA Ed in 2017 on the use of technology in teaching maths, I was keen to share and extend my research with others, and I began to deliver an A Level Technology Work Group with Great North Maths Hub in the same year. This experience drove me to explore further professional development opportunities, and I followed this up by completing the NCETM PD Lead Programme. This has proved invaluable to my experiences in structuring and delivering effective CPD programmes in the years since.

What does your Work Group activity involve?
Work Groups provide a great opportunity to engage with the latest educational research and collaborate with like-minded colleagues from across the region. We tend to meet in person three times a year to explore and discuss new approaches to post-16 teaching, with time in between sessions to try out any ideas, which can then be fed back into the later Work Group sessions. 

The A Level Pedagogy Work Group I am leading for Archimedes NE Maths Hub this year is focused on mechanics, where we will look at embedding practical skills and exploring pedagogical approaches. We have mechanics equipment for participants to take away and try out in between sessions, then participants will get to keep the equipment at the end of the year!

Another Work Group we have planned, for Great North Maths Hub, is focused on reasoning and problem-solving. This will draw upon content from across the A level specifications, underpinned by teaching for mastery approaches within a post-16 setting.

What are the challenges of being a Work Group Lead?
Being a full-time teacher myself, I am all too aware of the time restraints and challenges of getting out of school. However, we should always remind ourselves (and SLT!) that time spent on effective subject-focused professional development is statistically one of the most important uses of our time as educators. These invaluable efforts will not only improve the experiences and outcomes of our current students but also those of all of our students in future years. It’s well worth it!

What do you most enjoy about being a Work Group Lead?
Being a Work Group Lead gives me an incentive to keep on top of educational research, in maths teaching and more general cognitive science, and the work of people such as Peps McCrea, Craig Barton and Dan Meyer. The networks of colleagues developed through Maths Hub Work Groups provide a perfect sounding board for discussing approaches to trialling the most insightful of these back in the classroom.

Work Groups also provide a really relaxed atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the school day, where we can properly focus on the most interesting aspects of teaching. I love to chat with teachers from different settings; to negotiate our different approaches to often similar challenges and explore how we can all support each other for our own benefit and the benefit of our students. 

Want to become a Work Group Lead?

Find out how you can get involved in the Developing A Level Pedagogy Work Group or even become a Work Group Lead yourself.