What are you leading?
Maths Pathway is a Learning and Teaching Model that supports students along an individual pathway to build a deep appreciation and knowledge of mathematics. It ties together elements of evidence-based practice from education research, including personalised learning, feedback, metacognition, and small group tuition.
Teachers in Maths Pathway Schools implement an integrated and holistic Learning and Teaching Model, encompassing the structure, teaching and assessment of mathematics for students from Grade 5 through to Year 10. Every Maths Pathway School receives digital technology, resources, professional development and ongoing support, as well as becoming connected to a broader values-aligned community.
The Maths Pathway movement began when Richard and Justin were working as teachers in Melbourne, Australia in 2012, and has now grown to include more than 170 schools across every state and territory of the country, dramatically changing the learning outcomes of more than 25,000 students. Students in Maths Pathway schools learn at on average double the rate of students in traditional courses, and develop a deeper appreciation of, and engagement with, mathematics.
Richard and Justin now co-lead a team of 25 staff from the organisation’s offices in Melbourne. Richard’s role as co-founder and Chief Visionary is to ensure that they are always on a path to better serve students, continually improve the design and delivery of mathematics learning, and to pioneer a truly future-oriented approach to education. Justin focuses on the ‘impact’ side of what they do, coordinating their innovation across multiple teams.
How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Justin: When I entered the Teach For Australia program, it was to the shock of my physics professors who were expecting me to continue my Masters research to PhD level on a full scholarship. I was strongly drawn to the mission of improving education, and particularly in tackling inequalities in our education system. Aware of the fact that very few physicists enter the teaching profession, I thought that this different skillset could allow me to spot a solution to a problem in education. This turned out to be the case.
My experiences as a Teach For Australia Associate helped me encounter that problem, by placing me in a classroom. But they were also pivotal in being able to solve it. Through Teach For Australia I met Richard, who was also an associate in the same cohort, and we cofounded Maths Pathway together. Without Richard, it would never have got off the ground. By bringing together people with such diverse skillsets and backgrounds, of such high enthusiasm and passion, Teach For Australia set the stage for innovation.
Moreover, Teach For Australia has continued to provide immensely valuable support. Prior to founding Maths Pathway, I was sponsored to attend a Teach For All trip to Silicon Valley to learn about social entrepreneurship and educational technology. Teach For Australia provided key connections and introductions to people whose help we needed to get started. They have helped us connect, and stay connected with associates and alumni across the network. They continue to provide advice, with their CEO now sitting on our Education Advisory Board.
Richard: It would not have been possible to build the Maths Pathway Learning and Teacher Model without our experience as Teach For Australia associates. Too many education initiatives are divorced from the realities of schools, classrooms, teachers and students. Our experiences as teachers allowed us to gain and nuanced understanding of what it’s actually like to be in a school, what challenges students and teachers in different contexts face, and how to best go about helping them meet those challenges.
At Maths Pathway, our ambitions are to continue to increase both our scale and degree of impact at an exponential rate. There are 1.6 million students in Australia in the year levels we target; so far, only 2% of those are learning with our new model.
Beyond Australia, other parts of the world have the same challenges in education and the other conditions needed for our solution to work. We hope to be scaling internationally within a couple of years.
Currently, our model works for students from the ages of 10 to 16, but there is so much improvement needed to both earlier and later mathematical learning. A different model may be needed to solve this, but what we are learning about implementing change management, professional development and communities at scale mean that we are well-positioned to tackle those challenges.
Beyond mathematics, there are many other aspects of education which could be improved with a similar approach. Other subject areas, such as science or literacy, are also in need of reform. Beyond the bounds of traditional subject structure, there is also much work to be done – from student wellbeing to 21st century skills.