The importance of subject knowledge and teaching skills has been emphasised by a number of studies. This study examined the Professional Mathematics Teacher Identity (PMTI) of non-specialist mathematics primary school teachers in terms of two aspects - the teacher as subject specialist and as teaching and learning specialist. A case study research design using a qualitative method was employed in this study. Three Grade 6 non-specialist mathematics teachers were purposively and conveniently selected as participants of the study. Their PMTI was revealed through interviews, lesson observation and the way in which they used the lesson plans.
The focus of the study was on the teachers’ subject matter knowledge (including an explanation of the concept, asking higher-order questions and the correcting of misconceptions) and teaching skills (including the application of different teaching approaches and using representations when teaching). Themes were pre-determined from the conceptual framework, which was a deductive analysis. Furthermore, codes and categories emerged from the semi-structured interview transcriptions conducted with the participants in this study. The findings from this study revealed that non-specialist mathematics primary school teachers have inadequate subject matter knowledge and teaching skills, which have an influence on the teaching and learning of mathematics. The findings also indicated that non-specialist mathematics teachers find it difficult to employ learner-centred teaching approaches. Thus, it is suggested that primary schools employ mathematics specialists from the Intermediate Phase upwards. Lastly, it was concluded that mathematics teaching requires specialised training.