This Nuffield funded project seeks proof-of-concept of new and sustainable models of partnerships that support professional learning in secondary school mathematics with the involvement of Higher Education. The focus is on improving students' problem-solving capabilities in mathematics.
The project builds on the work of a pilot project that took place during the academic year 2012/13, with funding from the Bowland Charitable Trust. This investigated the potential of Japanese lesson study to support the professional learning of mathematics teachers and was carried out in collaboration with the IMPULS group at Tokyo Gakugei University.
The project involved two clusters of schools: one of four schools in the Midlands and another of five schools in London, working in collaboration with two HEIs (University of Nottingham and King's College, London). Over the course of the project, about 30 research lessons based on Bowland mathematics materials were taught, observed and discussed altogether.
The main outcomes of this project were:
- knowledge about initiating and facilitating lesson study as a process
- increased expertise in problem solving and mathematics teaching more widely
Further, the potential of high-quality lesson study practices to provide effective professional development for mathematics teachers in an increasingly important and demanding mathematical activity was recognised by the teachers and researchers, and there was a desire to continue and expand on what had been learnt and done.
The work and outcomes of this pilot will provide substantial support to the early work of the project.
The project will address the following questions:
- How can models of professional learning for secondary school teachers, based on lesson study, be developed and sustained within current and changing systems and structures of school governance and funding mechanisms?
- What supporting tools would help collaborative partnerships to implement lesson study for mathematical problem solving in effective ways that are both sustainable and scalable?
The project will build and develop, through formative, iterative cycles of design and improvement:
- New lesson study partnerships that exemplify a range of different effective models of operation
- A core network of expertise ready to support emerging new partnerships
- A toolkit of resources that will support:
- the key players in initiating, organising and sustaining professional learning communities
- participants in lesson study
The project takes a particularly distinctive view of lesson study that is a core feature of its implementation in Japan; lesson study should be embedded in a culture of teacher research and should have the support of mathematics education expertise, typically found in universities. The lesson study model at the core of the project is, therefore, one that brings a formality to, and consequently expands and enhances, existing models that are based on teachers' peer observation and reflection.
The project will draw on the support of NCETM and its work will be guided by an advisory group.