Before Setting up a Group

Before you set up a group, you should consider the following questions:  


Senior management

To what extent do senior management understand the purpose and benefits of the programme? 

Are senior management committed to practically supporting the programme? 

To ensure the success of the programme it is important that senior management are on board, so spend time convincing them of the value of the programme, and throughout the year keep them updated on the its progress. 


Is there sufficient capacity for teachers to attend the equivalent of five days training? 

How will you select teachers? 

How will teachers select classes?

The sessions could be timetabled into the college’s allotted CPD time. There are many factors that could influence who participates in the programme. Some of the teachers, for example, may be prospective lead teachers who, in the future, could cascade the programme out to others. Alternatively, teachers new to teaching, or with little professional development experience, may benefit most from the programme. Teachers also need to think carefully about the class they will teach the Maths-for-Life lessons to. As it will involve a certain amount of risk-taking, teachers may prefer an ‘easier’ class to try out new teaching strategies.

The skills and knowledge of a lead teacher 

Ensure you understand the learning intentions of the programme and reflect on the following questions: 

  • Why encourage students to talk to each other when they will be examined as individuals? 
  • Students are tested on a broad range of topics at GCSE, why does the programme only focus on five? 
  • Why don’t groups work on all five lessons at the beginning of the year and then teachers will have the skills to use for the rest of the year?
  • How can lead teachers foster a professional community of learners?
Research over the last 30 years overwhelmingly indicates that students learn best when working together, read About Dialogic Learning for more information. A key premise of the programme is that, through engaging deeply with the five lessons, teachers will take a deep dive into teaching and learning. The mathematics taught in the lessons is core to the GCSE curriculum and known to be challenging for students to grasp. The intention is that by focusing in detail on these lessons, teachers will develop a rich understanding of the mathematics and the complexities of how students learn. This knowledge will underpin and facilitate how teachers extend their practice and develop new teaching strategies to lessons beyond the Maths-for-Life programme. Spreading the lessons over a year provides the time for teachers to practise in between the professional development sessions, and ensures new strategies are embedded into all lessons. See also Community of Professional Learners.

Lead teachers from the Maths-for-Life programme provide their thoughts about how to prepare for the programme.


Centre for Research in Mathematics Education
School of Education, University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB