The University of Reading’s Institute of Education has a vibrant research community and we regularly invite members of our community to share their research as part of our lunchtime research seminar series. On Thursday, 21 February 2019, we were pleased to hear research updates from two of our members of staff: Nasreen Majid (Lecturer in Primary Mathematics) and Dr. Naomi Flynn (Associate Professor of Primary English Education).

In addition to being a Lecturer at the Institute, Nasreen is also one of our EdD students. In her talk titled ‘Researching the identities of specialist mathematics teachers in England through graphical and narrative interview approaches’, Nasreen highlighted that primary teachers build a professional identity as Primary Mathematics Specialists without purposefully seeking this out as a career path. These identities are constructed over time and are influenced by personal and professional influences.

Professional learning opportunities have been found to be one of the key factors for PMaSTs to build, sustain and further develop mathematics teaching and learning in primary schools. Additionally, the professional learning opportunities provided deeper and sustained learning opportunities for the PMaSTs to build their agency over time. As the PMaSTs shared a range of negative experiences of learning mathematics, they demonstrated a heightened sense of empathy towards learners and therefore provided enhanced opportunities for the teaching and learning of mathematics within their classrooms and also within the environments in which they operated. Furthermore, PMaSTs valued being part of a community of PMaSTs at a local level where they shared and therefore enriched each other learning opportunities.

It is recommended , through the main findings of the research to provide a sustained approach to professional learning for primary teachers in order to develop into PMaSTs. It is also suggested that data sets are gathered annually on the number of PMaSTs regionally in order to understand the spread of mathematics expertise. This data can then be used to spread the scope of the expertise PMaSTs can offer, using a similar model to that developed for the now decommissioned Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) model.

In her talk, titled ‘Building (potentially) impactful practitioner-researcher relationships: Bringing US practices for EAL to the UK’, Naomi talked about a potential strategy for researchers to get practitioners interested in their research.

The event was very well attended by both research staff and doctoral students at the Institute. Details of the Institute’s future lunchtime research seminars can be found here.