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Experiences of learning to become a further education and training mathematics teacher' case study
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Low achievement in school mathematics, in comparison to other countries, impacts South Africa’s global competitiveness. A shortage of qualified mathematics teachers is a key contributor to the low performance of learners in mathematics. To address the above challenge, a one-year Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), accessible to suitable diploma or degree graduates, is used to increase the number of qualified mathematics teachers in South Africa. This study explores how the PGCE equips these graduates with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to function as a newly qualified teacher (NQT) in the classroom. A qualitative case study methodology, purposive sampling, semi-structured interviews and document analysis are used. The case study focuses on a specific Higher Education Institution (HEI), represented by teacher educators and students/NQTs involved in a PGCE Further Education and Training (FET) mathematics programme. One of the key findings is: The PGCE offers graduates a concentrated Bachelors in Education (B. Ed.) fourth year pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) related qualification during afternoon/evening contact sessions, using continuous assessment to verify development. General education theories, PCK (which includes aspects that can be considered specialised simplified content knowledge (SSCK)), and positive and negative aspects associated with the teaching profession, formed the basis of the PGCE, to equip NQTs to meet national policy expectations. The part-time aspects of the PGCE, such as afternoon/evening classes and the appointment of teacher educators, restricted one-on-one engagements with the ever-increasing number of students and meetings between all involved in PGCE delivery. Guided self-study required students to take an active role in influencing the quality and content of the PGCE. One of the key recommendations arising from the study is the need to verify subject matter knowledge (SMK), to identify the need for extra modules or an introductory PGCE. Another is the need to develop and design PGCE context-specific content, in addition to the current practice of using B. Ed. related content. The contribution made by this study is that it serves as an example of how to explore ITE programme experiences of learning to teach in a longitudinal qualitative approach.