Building a successful maths network - top tips

Ben Ozanne, Centres for Excellence in Maths coordinator and coach, Katie Fremlin, Centres for Excellence in Maths Project Manager, both City College Plymouth and Shobhna Fletcher, Regional Maths Lead share their ideas on making collaboration work.

Getting collaborative, active, and receptive network partners is a key to the coordination and management of a Maths Network. This can be a daunting task but fear not, we’ve got some top tips for you that should make networking as easy as 3.14159…

Let’s look at the creation of the network. A successful tactic for us to bring new network partners onboard has been to use our ETF Regional Maths Lead to access an institution at a strategic level, leaving Centre Leads to approach curriculum staff from the ground up to create a pincer movement.

Maths Centre for Excellence, City College Plymouth

Moving onto activities within the network. Firstly, we’ve probably all been to networking events and we’ve thought “why are we here, this has limited value for me, I should be doing something else?”. Our first tip is to make sure your offer is relevant to the people you want to engage. If you do not know what they want… ask! Involve the people you want to engage in the decision-making process if possible.

To synchronous or to asynchronous, that is the question. At City College Plymouth we made a series of short networking CPD videos that can be accessed live or engaged with at a later date.

These sessions were designed after network partners expressed concerns about spending too much time on virtual learning platforms and increased frustration with break out rooms. These quick easy to digest sessions were well received by network partners as they just gave the relevant information.

As well as a traditional newsletter approach, the use of social media has been successful. Bite-sized snippets of information make it easily accessible. We promote information in a variety of mediums: Twitter, Instagram, or even TikTok and we monitor who is following us. We have also created a free Google site where we store information about the project, some of our resources where you can sign up for our newsletter and find other useful links. Take a look at our Maths Centre for Excellence site here.

Finally here are our Top Tips:

  • Don’t go in cold, get a named person contact.
  • Make an action plan – what’s in it for them? what can you offer? do you know what you’re going to say?
  • Form an open dialogue, two-way communication is key.
  • Time and value – Does your offer have value and is the timing appropriate?
  • If they sign up for research, ask for their commitment in writing.
  • When they are onboard, don’t forget to follow up. For example, find out if they have any questions that they would like you to answer or require clarity on, between network meetings.
  • Share successes regularly, no matter how small.
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