Lack of qualified teachers turns students off studying maths

The numbers of students taking higher level mathematics in VCE has dropped to the lowest figure in twenty years, and a lack of qualified maths teachers is being blamed for the decline.

Teachers are only required to have special expertise in maths and science if teaching it in year 11 and 12.

In Victoria, 32 per cent of teachers taking year 7 to 10 classes are teaching subjects outside of the area they are qualified to teach, the highest unqualified figure of any state in Australia.

Chair of the Education Forum of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, Emeritus Professor Doreen Thomas, said there simply aren’t enough teachers who specialise in maths.

“We don’t have enough teachers who are actually trained in mathematics,” she told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“If you’ve studied maths you can get jobs in all sorts of wonderful places like banks, and use your qualifications elsewhere.

“We just need to have more people choosing to take mathematics and then go on to teaching.”

Ms Thomas said more can also be done to make sure students know the real life applications of mathematics skills, which may also boost interest in studying higher level mathematics.

“They need to understand that mathematics is used to solve problems, it’s used to enable you to have more renewable energy and all sorts of things like that, to have sustainable housing, even to guide traffic,” she said.

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