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Government policy on Maths

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by brambo, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/maths-reform/9101621/Numeracy-Campaign-teenagers-struggle-with-GCSE-maths.html
    According to the DfE study, just 59 per cent of teenagers in England gain A* to C grades in maths – fewer than any other academic subject.
    It suggests many pupils view maths as harder than most other subjects - giving them less confidence to study it at an advanced level.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/maths-reform/9103865/Numeracy-Campaign-maths-curriculum-failing-to-meet-the-needs-of-the-21st-century.html
    For the majority of young people, maths is a meaningless subject, with 85 per cent of students quitting it as soon as they are allowed. For too many, maths is just a series of disconnected techniques and formulae. It seems dry and academic.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/feb/24/exam-boards-tighten-four-gcses
    The exams regulator, Ofqual, announced it was making changes to GCSEs in English literature, maths, history and geography to ensure students studied the whole curriculum.
    It is understood the move comes after concerns were raised that pupils were only studying topics that were likely to come up in the exams, rather than the entire course.
    Before I come onto my main point, is it us (on boards like this) that have caused the last part? Due to the hierachy of maths, we all know that borderline B/C pupils are often not taught all the work at grades A and A*. Why? Simple. If they cannot factorise quadratics and add and subtract fractions effectively then solving algebraic fractions is meaningless.
    Onto my main point.
    Read the two articles in the Telegraph. Pupils both find Maths hard and meaningless.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8687244/Study-maths-up-to-18-says-Carol-Vorderman-report.html
    The study, led by Carol Vorderman, the TV presenter, also recommended creating a new-style practical maths GCSE to give slower pupils a decent understanding of real-life issues such as managing their finances and data handling.
    It seems inevitable that we are being pushed towards this outcome. Similar to English, we will see a Pure and an Applied Maths exam.
    So, what is stopping the Government making this change? Teachers? Parents? Cost? Are they worried about the very really need to train teachers for the change and the cost that would incur? Or is it simply the very real issue that middle-class parents might cause a lot of fuss if their children are "consigned" to studying the Applied course which might be seen as less academically challenging and thus second-class?
     
  2. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    I know English Lit teachers who get excellent results and don't even read the whole Shakespearian play but just read one act and show the video! Or at least they did with the old specs. Now I think that is really shocking.
    I don't think Maths teachers manipulate their practice in such a cynical way, I certainly don't. Of course I am not going to teach the whole higher syallabus to my B/C/D group. I will teach them what I can, changing the exam will not change my practice. I will teach them all the grade B and below content and push them as far as I can with the A/A* work. Now if there was an Intermediate paper that would be perfect for them and I would teach the whole syllabus!!!!
     
  3. We are certainly not disagreeing.
    But, the return of an intermediate paper is highly unlikely to happen.
    Also, given Gove's stated desire to increase uptake of A Level Maths, the intermediate paper would be unlikely as schools would use the paper as a bar to studying at A Level as our former HoD did. I do think we (Maths teachers) should keep quieter about teaching only "part" of the syllabus to some students, mainly because most politicians are former humanities students (or certainly PPE students) and have no understanding that Maths is a completely hierachical subject.
     
  4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9072505/University-maths-too-difficult-for-British-students.html
    “Universities are marginalising mathematical content in the delivery of degree courses because English students are not capable of studying it,” the report said. “For instance, in the social sciences, quantitative research methods may be neglected.
    “It also means English universities are not keeping pace with international standards. It is common amongst universities overseas to require advanced mathematics qualifications prior to being accepted onto relevant degree programmes.
    “In an increasingly international market, the failure to develop quantitative skills and content adequately has the potential to damage the standing of some English degrees amongst international students and to disadvantage English graduates in the global marketplace.”
    The study – Solving the Maths Problem: International Perspectives on Mathematics Education – recommended creating a two-stage maths qualification at GCSE level: one for more advanced students and the other promoting practical numeracy skills.
    It also said the Government should consider making maths compulsory up the age of 18.
    Hmmmmm.
    Why not just get things moving.
     
  5. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    OCR have been running a pilot aiming to do precisely that.

    I'd believed it was being sidelined because of everything else the government is up to. Perhaps it can be dug out again.
     
  6. I think I know the one you mean. It was at A Level if I recall. It was meant as an alternative to the mostly pure syllabus at A level.
    I tried to get our school to agree to take part in the pilot and was refused.
     
  7. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I see two problems.
    The main one is simple. Funtional / applied / real life or whatever else you call it - maths tedns to be considerable harder than the the present foundation level papers - so seeing this as on option for the less academic is a joke as the pilot of functional maths proved - level 2 being inacesable to many grade C students.
    The second being that students are required to do the applied bit before they can acheieve a c overall - meaning the higher students have to sit a pointless extra exam.
     
  8. September

    September New commenter

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