Womanthology Icon

Real-life maths brought into the classroom: From engineer to teacher – Marie Hatfield, Maths Teacher and Get into Teaching Advocate

Get-into-Teaching - Maths

Marie Hatfield trained as an engineering apprentice before studying for an engineering degree. After taking a career break to look after her young family, she decided to retrain as a teacher. Today, Marie is an associate assistant head at Studley High School, in charge of maths, and a specialist leader of education. 

Marie-Hatfield - Get into Teaching
Marie Hatfield

“…I think teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs possible. Every day is different and being able to encourage students to attain the best they can and see them do that is incredible…”

Teaching – the perfect fit

Becoming a maths teacher appealed to me because I wanted to find a role where I could utilise my experience working in engineering and my engineering degree, while also working around my family. I felt like teaching could be the perfect fit.

I started my career with a GTP (Graduate Teacher Programme) at a school in Birmingham, which meant I trained in school, whilst in post. I remained there for eight years and progressed to being in charge of Assessment and Teaching & Learning within the Maths Department. I then moved schools to become head of department at another school before taking my current position at Studley High School, where I am an associate assistant head, in charge of maths, and a specialist leader of education. 

Tailored teaching

On a day to day basis, my role primarily involves being in charge of the Maths Department. This means I am responsible for ensuring high standards of teaching, learning and assessment are being implemented across the department. My role also means making sure we’re tailoring our teaching to any student who is achieving under their potential and to get the best outcomes for all students in maths.

Our school also recently received an employability grant – the funding for which, I manage. So far, we have formed a girls-only go-karting team, which has been phenomenal to see develop. We’re three weeks into the project and the team have so far, attached the wheels, assembled the frame and are now working on the engine.

We have also had female apprentices at school, inspiring our girls into careers in engineering and we have many more visits and workshops planned for the academic year, to ensure all students are inspired by STEM activities. In July we also have a Primary Engineer project and celebration event planned, to work with local primary schools in promoting STEM. 

Being a curriculum leader for maths

My role as a curriculum leader for maths, means ensuring teaching and learning is of the highest standard in the department and that we’re monitoring assessment and homework, ensuring books are marked to the same high standard across the department. It’s all about supporting the students and staff and working as a team to share best practice.

I also support staff at other schools, as I am now also a specialist leader of education. This allows me to go and support schools and colleagues, to develop best practice in their maths departments. 

Relating the practical aspects of maths

I completed a five-year engineering apprenticeship with MEM, which is an electrical firm. I thoroughly enjoyed all the aspects from learning to weld, to working on more technical aspects of design introduction. It’s been quite an easy transition into teaching and it’s great to link my lessons back to ‘real-life maths’.

I’ve found it so useful to be able to connect teaching to real-life scenarios, making maths relevant to the students and that little bit more interesting when they can envisage the real-life application of theories.

Creative approach

I’m not sure if I’ve noticed a move from STEM to STEAM yet, but I do incorporate creativity into my lessons. We sometimes encourage students to dance along to music when learning vectors to help them understand how they work! Generally though, it’s about making maths accessible and making it relevant. Using the arts and creative teaching is a great way to do this.

Advice for Womanthology readers who are interested in finding out about teaching

I think teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs possible. Every day is different and being able to encourage students to attain the best they can and see them do that is incredible, especially working with children to overcome their individual challenges.

Personally, I’ve had students who track me down in the school corridors to thank me. You don’t do the job to be thanked, but on those occasions, it does bring a bit of a tear to my eye. 

Coming up next

My aspiration is to become an assistant head teacher. I’d love to be more responsible for affecting positive change across the school and not just within my department. I have started to do this more in my role, but I would like to continue this throughout the whole school. I always want to be teaching maths though and I will always try to stay close to the classroom!