Primary mathematics specialisations in initial teacher education

This evaluation was originally published 8 September 2023.



The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has investigated and endorsed primary teaching specialisations offered by universities in NSW. The NESA-recognised mathematics specialisation aims to develop initial teacher education (ITE) students’ mathematics pedagogical knowledge, understanding of relevant and emerging technologies and practices, and confidence in using various effective teaching approaches.

This evaluation sought to answer the following questions:

  1. Have NESA-recognised primary mathematics specialisations been implemented effectively in initial teacher education settings?
  2. Do primary teachers with a mathematics specialisation demonstrate greater content and pedagogical knowledge, and confidence in teaching mathematics?


  • Approximately half of the surveyed ITE students were aware of the mathematics specialisations.
  • Surveyed ITE students who reported a greater interest in mathematics were more likely to undertake the NESA-recognised mathematics specialisation.
  • The NESA-recognised mathematics specialisation is reported to be appropriately and coherently structured.
  • Surveyed ITE students undertaking the mathematics specialisation were able to apply their mathematics knowledge more readily while on professional placements.
  • Interviewed graduate primary teachers with a NESA-recognised specialisation are using their mathematics knowledge gained during their studies inside their classrooms.


  • ITE providers should continue to find ways to improve general awareness of the NESA-recognised primary mathematics specialisations and place greater emphasis on the purpose of the specialisations, especially the career pathways available to those who complete them.
  • NSW Department of Education should continue to support NESA mathematics specialisation graduates’ placement in schools, and provide clarification to both schools and teachers about how to best support these graduates once they are in a classroom teacher position.


  • Evaluation

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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