#181 Mark McCourt: Tips for teachers, Mastery, Reflections and Retirement

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Sponsor details

This episode of the Mr Barton Maths podcast is proudly supported by Casio Education. Check out the fantastic resources they have available for teachers here: education.casio.co.uk/mr-barton-maths

Episode details

Where to begin? Mark McCourt has done it all. From maths teacher, head of maths, head teacher, Ofsted inspector, CEO, founder, and the creator of MathsConf. I first met Mark almost 20 years ago, and have learned from him ever since. This is Mark’s 3rd appearance on the podcast, and given he recently announced his retirement, I fear it may be his last.


  1. Retirement and career changes. (4:43)
  2. Potential and ability in education. (13:30)
  3. The meaning of “ability” in education. (21:31)
  4. Teaching methods and class organization. (25:30)
  5. Teacher performance and subject-specific knowledge. (33:28)
  6. Education trends and subject matter in schools. (38:06)
  7. Education sector fear and lack of agency among teachers. (44:14)
  8. Assessing student learning and understanding. (53:21)
  9. Teaching methods and mini whiteboards. (58:59)
  10. Maths education and manipulatives. (1:03:41)
  11. Using manipulatives in math education. (1:10:22)
  12. Maths education and teacher training. (1:16:35)
  13. Inadequate teacher training in the UK. (1:22:47)
  14. Teaching math concepts in a personalized manner. (1:28:42)
  15. Math education and assessment methods. (1:33:34)
  16. Formative assessment and teacher vulnerability. (1:41:00)
  17. Teaching mathematics with formal language and forward-thinking methods. (1:44:53)
  18. Teaching methods and fear of inspections. (1:51:26)
  19. The power of education and knowledge transfer. (1:59:05)
  20. Education as a maturation process. (2:05:01)
  21. Mastery approach in education with a focus on math and FE. (2:15:16)
  22. FE college math reset issues. (2:20:03)
  23. Improving mathematical literacy through precise language use. (2:27:29)
  24. Educational approach and its impact on school performance. (2:33:45)
  25. The importance of shared values and beliefs in schools. (2:40:44)
  26. The effectiveness of Ofsted and potential systemic problems. (2:46:23)
  27. Ofsted’s effectiveness and potential biases. (2:52:34)
  28. Education system and curriculum design. (2:56:56)
  29. Maths education, curriculum, and technology. (3:04:41)
  30. Mastery-based education and assessments. (3:09:48)
  31. The role of teachers in education and the potential for online learning. (3:14:19)
  32. The importance of classroom experience in teaching. (3:21:58)
  33. Career challenges and personal growth. (3:26:44)
  34. Teaching, grief, and pride in education. (3:31:41)
  35. Retirement, relationships, and personal growth. (3:40:39)
  36. Education, values, and priorities with Mark McCourt. (3:45:59)

Mark’s stuff

My usual plugs

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