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AQA/ Edexecel Modular Maths

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by siddons_sara, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. This time around we started Unit 1 in the summer term of Year 9 and did the exam in November Year 10. Unit 2 we will do in June of Year 10 and then Unit 3 will be in Summer Year 11.

    I think most schools though (and we will be following them next time around) do Unit 2 first, then Unit 1 and then Unit 3.

    The advantage of doing Unit 2 first is that (almost all) of the number work in Unit 1 (calculator) is covered in Unit 2 (non-calculator). Doing unit 2 first and teaching all the number work without a calculator would have a very big advantage then time wise when it comes to doing Unit 1, i.e. these are the same topics we have already done kids, just use your calculators this time!

    Hope that helps.
  2. I forgot to mention, a colleague from another school went to an official AQA teach the 2010 spec course last year and the guy from AQA more or less admitted that he felt the order should be 2,1, 3 and the majority of schools there were doing them in that order.
  3. Colleen_Young

    Colleen_Young Occasional commenter

    But will modular last? We may not have the choice.
    Sara that is the impression I have always had too - 2,1,3 is the route taken by most.
    We have always done the same as you, starting the Data Handling in Year 9, taking the module in November Year 10.
  4. Indeed DM and that's something else that I'm afraid my school has been a bit slow to wake up to, the re-sit shuffle. Several schools in my LA do Module 3 in the November of Year 11. Some borderline candidates do Foundation in November and if they get a C they then have a go at Higher in the summer. For those on a grade D they get a second shot in the summer. Some of the schools don't put those estimated lower than a D in for the exam until the summer but everyone else gets two chances.

    I'm not saying that I agree with the above model but a lot of schools are playing that game.

    Our reason for starting Module 2 in Year 9 was to make good use of the summer term. We reorganised our SOW so that most of the GCSE topics naturally fell in that final term. In practice, I'd be the first to admit that it hasn't worked particularly well with having the long summer holiday between the two teaching blocks.
  5. I've heard of doing the 2-1-3 order for AQA, again on the advice of AQA. Do people feel it's a better route for the Edexcel exam too? We did the year 9 start last year for the same reasons that Sara states, but also felt that the summer holidays and change of teacher and groups was a problem.
  6. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Hi brookes. I would personally have a look at the Unit 1 and Unit 2 papers for AQA and Edexcel. We have been really disappointed with the AQA ones. The language on the first two Unit 1 papers hasn't been great in my opinion. Although the grade boundaries are slightly lower to reflect this. I am that concerned that I have abandoned doing AQA and moved everyone to old style Edexcel with examination in March 2012.

  7. I would agree about the AQA papers, very much the return of 'story maths', not too dissimilar to looking back to the very early NC tests. Thanks to pencho for the shout on Edexcel, I'll certainly have a look at that too.

    Prior to the 2010 GCSEs I'd found the standard of writing on the AQA papers to be absolutely excellent.
  8. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    I completely agree. I don't know what is going on at AQA at the moment. But how can they expect schools to change to their exam board when they are producing papers like this. We' cannot stay with them and we've been with AQA for years. Have they got a new writing team in or what?
    Look at the Unit 1 paper this week. Some wording is just shocking. The questions are not really functional if you ask me. The situations are contrived. Edexcel here we come. I have to say Graham at Edexcel has been fantastically helpful in emails with him. I was worried we wouldn't get the level of support that AQA provided - but I have been impressed.

  9. When I saw the trial papers for AQA I assumed that they were quick rough drafts and that the real papers would be of a much higher standard. Sadly, the actual papers have proved to be even worse than the trial ones.

    There at least seems to have been a change in the writing team, it's difficult to think a team that previously had taken great pains over every word could come up with the recent papers. I wonder for how many pupils mixing concrete could be classed as a real world context they can relate to? Did we really need all the extra words on the recipe question, surely 'mushrooms' would have sufficed rather than 'button mushrooms'. And the coke can question was just abysmal.

    AQA had made quite an effort with their 'All About Maths' website but much more of this nonsense and I think we will be moving too. I have seen the head of AQA maths write on here, perhaps he would like to comment?
  10. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Yes. It would be nice for Andrew to comment. Sadly it will be too late to persuade us to stay with AQA maths.

  11. Hello all,
    In order to respond to the points raised, I've referred to specific questions from recent papers below. I did consider posting the papers, but am conscious that these will be used as mocks in many schools, and should be protected. If anyone has not seen the questions but would like to have a look, do contact me.
    I have taken another look at the three questions on AQA's Unit 2 Foundation paper that Sara mentioned. I suspect that both the 'cement' and 'recipe' contexts will not have unduly worried candidates as the mathematics needed was pretty clear in both cases, and mixing concrete is one of the few real contexts where mixing three quantities in a given ratio is actually used. The 'cola can' question was challenging with a lot of information to make sense of. It is a multi-step question in context, assessing Assessment Objective 2 of a kind which should be set if we are serious about properly testing the requirements of the specification. Of course, we could have made it very easy by breaking the question into parts, but this would have taken away the point of it.
    We fervently believe, and hope most teachers agree, that part of mathematics is reasoning through problems like this and selecting the right information and the correct operations. Further, if we do not test these skills in GCSE with some rigour, then we are doing a disservice to all those teachers who are working hard to build learners' skills in applying mathematics, and would be going against many of the things we have said over the past two years whilst developing and launching the new specifications.
    Some of you will remember a thread on here a few weeks ago, regarding access to old (pre-GCSE) papers. We're still looking into this but, in light of this thread, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing the following question with you, taken from the 1983 O-Level paper (the first one that came to hand).
    A detergent manufacturer produces and distributes 100 000 discount coupons in an advertising promotion, at a cost of 1p per coupon. Each coupon gives 5p off the price of a packet of detergent. The manufacturer also pays to the stores accepting the coupons a handling fee of 2p per coupon accepted. Given that only 38 per cent of the coupons are in fact used, calculate the total cost of the promotion to the manufacturer. (4 marks)
    I've retyped it to fit here, but this is a faithful reproduction, in one continuous paragraph. I would hope that the shorter, one-line sentences now used in questions such as "cola can" allow easier access to the information, but the skill of interpreting and then "choosing and using" the appropriate mathematics to address the question remains the same.
    Until the publication of results, I am unable to talk in detail about the performance of the March examination, but I hope that this has been of some use in explaining our rationale for these new papers. Looking back to November, I wrote a summary of the results which may be of interest, and will be doing the same in April for these papers.
    With best wishes,
    Andrew Taylor, Head of AQA GCSE Mathematics
  12. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I agree entirel with Andrew and AQA on the theory behind the way maths should be taught and tested.

    Unfortunatly students dont want to be challenged and head teachers care only about results. Functional maths in the new specs has been correctly embraced by AQA but while other exam boards continue to produce papers that are more accessable then they will continue to be the prepferred option.

    I was pretty much forced to change because of these reasons.

    Its not about what you do or the way you do it - it all about what results you get and with league tables (the worst thing that ever happened to eudaction) - it always will be.
  13. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Thank Andrew for responding.
    I don't believe it to be the fact the questions are functional/problem solving, I just feel as Maths Mike correctly points out - the AQA questions are getting increasingly harder to access. This is due to in many cases the wording of the questions e.g. March Unit 1H Q3 Higher about the trains Part (c)!!! If you look at the Edexcel papers, they have (in my opinion) more questions that students 15/16 years old can relate to.
    Foundation Edexcel
    16 shorter questions = 60 marks (Activity Trip, Subjects that students study, people in car, going to cinema, people at fairground, cricket v hockey, trip to a concert, icecream sales)
    Foundation AQA
    9 generally longer questions = 54 marks (Saving Money, Trains running late, Customer Satisfaction People/Survey, Colours of cars in a car park, Easter Eggs, Spinners)

  14. In schools where there are a high proportion of pupils for whom English is not their first language, then I'd argue just as mike and pencho are that every word counts and the contexts mentioned are neither familiar or of interest to the majority of pupils.

    We really are falling into the trap of adding a layer of language that is there for the pupils to decode in the desired way, to learn the 'trick' of answering the questions, rather than testing their ability to apply their mathematics. In Andrew's reply to my criticism of the concrete question, I think he pretty much admits that.

    Yes, I agree that the question from the old 'O' level paper is very wordy indeed but is it really a good justification of the current crop of questions to say 'well it was worse in the old days': I think not.

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