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Maths expert Hema steps up to ease teacher shortage

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Hema Soni: facing a challenge

A maths expert who has taught at university is being brought in to try to end severe problems with teaching the subject on St Helena.

Ms Hema Soni was recruited after St Helena Government significantly improved the pay offer for the job, after the island was left without maths teachers because of illness and difficulties attracting and keeping staff on the island.

Colin Moore, director of education, said: “This is a crucial appointment for the island.  For far too long St Helena has not had sufficient expertise in Maths or a sufficient focus on the importance of mathematics as an essential skill, in both the workplace and in everyday life.

“If our young people are to be the island’s future engineers and scientists, then high quality maths teaching will be essential. Hema will help us make that a reality. She is a very experienced and successful educationalist who is going to be a great asset to the directorate.”

Hema said she was looking forward to working with colleagues in St Helena.

“I have not only the ability to take on the responsibility of this position, but also the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it. I look forward to meeting everyone in August.”

She will have to confront a serious backlog in learning.

Teachers from other departments had to try to prepare students for their GCSE exams this year, and parents at a public meeting voiced concern about whether pupils in other years groups would catch up on a year of inadequate maths teaching.

The island’s physiotherapist, who has a maths degree, was signed up to offer extra teaching after hours after an appeal was put out on the island for help from outside Prince Andrew School.

Hema has worked as an advanced skills teacher, a lecturer at a further education college, and as head of mathematics at a school in Essex, England. She has also been a subject leader for the full-time Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)  course at Brunel University in the UK.

She will arrive on St Helena on 3 August when the RMS returns from Cape Town.

Meeting on maths teacher shortage – full transcript (note: unedited first draft – 5,000 words)
Maths crisis prompts appeal for teaching help
Must do better: poor school report spells ‘bleak’ future

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