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FE College Open Days/Evenings

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by cookiemonster611, May 2, 2018.

  1. cookiemonster611

    cookiemonster611 New commenter

    Hi All,

    Hopefully this is posted in the correct forum as it is to do with maths, but also with FE?

    College open days are there to showcase the courses on offer for prospective students. The vocational subjects have many things on show to attract students but for us poor maths teachers we don't seem to have much. We have the college prospectus, a list of maths courses, and the spec and exam board for each course.

    Usually students select their chosen vocation and the maths is added onto their timetable if they do not have the qualification or they need a certain grade in order to progress onto the following level.

    The type of students we tend to get are those who have not had the best of experiences in maths and so are not always committed to the subject.

    How or what could us maths teachers add to our station on these open days/evenings to try and make the subject interesting to potential students?

    Any suggestions welcome.

    Many thanks in advance
  2. elder_cat

    elder_cat Senior commenter

    In my experience in FE, some students went to College because they didn't have a job and didn't really know what they wanted to do. When I was in FE, the Vocational courses were always sold on the basis of what they would allow a student to do after they completed the course, rather than the content of the course.

    You need to give prospective students a reason to do the Maths. Give them some ideas as to how Maths would benefit them in the workplace, after they've finished at College. How will it help them get a job ? What sort of jobs would it be useful in ? Show them why the Maths is relevant to their chosen area, and explain how it will help them to get a foothold in their chosen area.

    I was never that brilliant at Maths at school, but I worked hard at becoming adept at the Maths needed for my chosen area of Computing. I did it because I could see why it was needed. The level of commitment the students show will be based on how important they see Maths in relation to their chosen field, whether that be Painting and Decorating, Veterinary Nurse, Welding, or Health and Beauty. It's all about finding the right context in which to present the Maths element as a valuable addition to their skill set.

    I'm suggesting you forget the content of the course, and concentrate on the rewards associated with completing it successfully. Give them a valid and compelling reason for wanting to do it, rather than simply foisting it on them as some form of requirement.
    simonbfc and Vince_Ulam like this.
  3. simonbfc

    simonbfc New commenter

    Brilliant suggestion elder_cat.

    I'm interested in the earning levels in different professions for those with and without GCSE Maths if such information exists as I feel it would be useful for my students for additional motivation. Does anyone have any idea where I could begin to compile such statistics or if there is already any sort of study done on this ? TIA
  4. elder_cat

    elder_cat Senior commenter

    Not sure if this information exists already in some form or another ? Maybe someone has actually done a study on it.

    If not, I suppose you could pull out job ads from local papers or recruitment websites, and compare the ones requiring applicants to have a set level of qualification, with those that don't require any.

    Or maybe produce something in table form, showing how in many industries the lack of a qualification can be either a barrier to entry to a desired career, or a limiting factor in how far you can go in that career.

    There must be information available somewhere on the web that gives typical starting salaries for different occupations.

    I think you should also highlight other benefits such as prestige, working conditions, and job satisfaction. Bizarre as it may seem, not everyone is motivated purely by financial gain. Its a question of finding the right button to press for the individual student.
    simonbfc likes this.
  5. simonbfc

    simonbfc New commenter

    Good advice elder_cat, thanks.
  6. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I'm just trying to put myself in the shoes of someone considering FE study. I can't imagine that they're actually going to base their decision on the wonderful maths department - they're presumably going to be far more interested in the courses and facilities for their main subject; maths is just something they're going to have to do. However, I don't imagine that management are going to let you off being involved in the open day.
    Might it be better to split your team up around the vocational areas, so you have a display on "maths in engineering", "maths in hair and beauty", "maths in catering", or whatever? You could include your salary/career information, and perhaps some relevant resources. That might make it clearer that maths is part of their career training, not a "compulsory extra".
    simonbfc and elder_cat like this.
  7. elder_cat

    elder_cat Senior commenter

    Excellent idea !!! :)
  8. cookiemonster611

    cookiemonster611 New commenter

    Many thanks @elder_cat. The idea seems fantastic. I'll get the bosses together and see how they like the idea?
  9. cookiemonster611

    cookiemonster611 New commenter

    That is exactly how it is! The students are more focused towards their vocational course and don't really think about the maths aspect of their course.

    Unfortunately, the usual case is that the students who do not pass their GCSE maths tend not to have such a great experience in schools (lack of motivation, schools worrying more about the 3/4(C/D) borderline students, and some schools thinking it is fine if the child has met their target grade of Grade 1 or 2? etc).

    I believe in making first impressions count and for this reason we need to change the way maths is looked at by students and parents who are retaking the subject. Showcasing the subject where maths is related to their vocation should only help students realise the importance of the maths.

    Thanks for your input guys! :)
  10. mathsman

    mathsman Occasional commenter

    One consequence of this course of action is all your students will fail their maths courses and you'll probably find yourself in competency measures
    shaia likes this.
  11. elder_cat

    elder_cat Senior commenter

    I was referring to forgetting the course content, only in terms of how you attempt to 'sell' the course to prospective students . In other words, not droning on about what they will cover in the course, but rather concentrating on what completing the course successfully would enable them to move on to, in terms of further courses or possible areas of employment.
    mathsman likes this.

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