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If you work in Cumbria or Lancashire, chances are you’re used to long commutes to training courses, professional development events, or local network meetings.

Well, did you know that we’ve been running all of our network meetings online this term? These sessions are a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues from across the area, and there’s no travelling involved! At recent meetings, we’ve looked at teaching in the COVID-19 classroom, how to use Desmos, and generally shared experiences of teaching in the ‘new normal’.

You can book onto our next session, which is after school on Thursday 26 November 2020, on the AMSP website. We hope to see you there!


Out of every crisis comes opportunity. Take, for example, our previous KS5 network meetings in the Merseyside area. The mode of delivery required a room to be booked at a conference centre (at some expense), someone to prepare and deliver the session, a two-hour time slot, and travel to the centre of Liverpool at a busy time.

Thankfully, teachers attended in good numbers over the years – they must have found the content stimulating, and the environment conducive to learning new things, otherwise they would not have returned. Then lockdown happened…

Our standard KS5 network meetings were – and are – no longer viable. So, like most other organisations, we had to take to Zoom (or the AMSP equivalent, BBB) to bridge the gap. And we found that… everything is still possible! In particular, as long as cameras and audio are switched on, the part of the meetings most valued by teachers, namely discussion with colleagues, remains just as effective.

We have taken the decision in the North West to hold shorter KS5 meetings, to retain the strong emphasis on discussion, and to direct teachers’ attention towards broader professional development initiatives such as Work Groups and other national online initiatives. We have moved the focus onto teachers choosing what themes they would most like to discuss, and we have collated the excellent content (and speakers) from previous meetings into shorter ‘micro-PD’ sessions that we can offer to teachers in 30-minute slots during the network meetings, if that is what they choose.

We have also boosted the local identity of these meetings by replacing the previous single regional network with new ones in Sefton, Liverpool, and St Helens/Wigan/Knowsley, run predominantly by teachers in these areas. Collectively, these authorities cover the area overseen by the North West Maths Hub 3, with whom we are working in close collaboration to make this initiative a success.

If you are a teacher in one of these locations and you would like to join a network, you can sign up using this form.

Similar ‘makeovers’ have taken place for other meetings: the North West Maths Hub 3/AMSP Core Maths Work Group (NCP 20-20), for example, will also take place online this year, with the emphasis on discussion and collaboration. If you would like to join this work group, you can sign up using this form.

Greater Manchester KS5

During this term, we have had two KS5 network meetings in the Greater Manchester region.

The first, Teaching After Lockdown, provided a platform for teachers to share their concerns and success stories. The agenda included:

  • changes to the curriculum and teaching in this ‘new normal’?
  • use of technology and new resources
  • impact on pedagogy
  • OFQUAL changes to the summer 2021 series… or not?
  • Year 13 students and their syllabus coverage

There were understandable concerns for those students who hadn’t fully engaged with resources over lockdown and now had more work to catch up with. Several schools were using a variety of diagnostic tests to assess the scale and focus of the problem.

There was also the opportunity to look at free resources available through the AMSP:

The second meeting, Modelling Corona Cases and Developing Exam Skills, looked at using A level techniques to produce exponential growth and decay models for various stages of the coronavirus outbreak.

The GeoGebra image below shows how well the model fits the data up to the point of lockdown. It suggests an r-number of 2.3 and a transmission of four days between infections. These lead to exam-style questions and a consideration of the limitations of the suggested models.

We are very keen to use these network meetings to respond to the needs of teachers within the region. Therefore, we welcome you to suggest agenda items which will provide a direct benefit to you and a wider audience of teachers.

The next Manchester A level Teacher Network meeting will be on Thursday 19 November 2020 and you can apply to join this meeting on the AMSP website.

Greater Manchester 11-16

We were really encouraged by the interest and take-up from local teachers to our online network meetings during lockdown in the North West, especially in Salford and Manchester. This engagement has continued into the autumn term, with a series of online network meetings built mainly on topics suggested by maths teachers. We have learnt from colleagues that taking part in networks brings growth and opportunities to connect with new faces, as well as the chance to deepen their own practice.

The Greater Manchester 11-16 teacher network had their first meeting of the 2020/21 academic year on Thursday 15 October 2020. These are informal network meetings, taking place once or twice per term, where local teachers are able to share ideas and support one another. In inviting teachers to determine the agenda, we ask for suggestions for discussion in advance. Also in Greater Manchester are the KS4 Manchester and Salford network meetings. These termly meetings have a focus on professional development. The first meetings for these networks this academic year are Quadratics – the big picture on Thursday 26 November 2020, and Kinematics…in context on Thursday 10 December 2020.

We extend an open invitation to all local maths teachers. All of these meetings start at 16:30 and don’t finish any later than 18:00, taking place online. If you would like any further information on these teacher networks, please email me.

By the North West regional team

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