In planning and teaching curriculum courses for pre-service primary teachers, both within a one-year Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) programme, and in a four-year undergraduate degree leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), we have always been aware that mathematics presents particular problems because of the experiences and attitudes students bring to the subject. We have always tried to balance students’ learning about how children learn mathematics in school, with reflection on their own experiences as learners, and with understanding of the mathematical content of the curriculum. In the past, mathematical content has generally been approached indirectly through discussion of activities and materials appropriate for the primary classroom. However the recent introduction in the U.K. of a National Curriculum for Primary Mathematics in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) which places considerable emphasis on students’ subject knowledge, has meant that we have had to rethink the balance within courses, and to place much more overt emphasis on developing students’ mathematical knowledge.\ud In this paper we describe the way in which we have approached building and assessing mathematical knowledge during the pilot phase of the ITT National Curriculum, examine some of the students’ responses to our approach, and discuss the issues this has raised
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