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If Maths GCSE is so easy...

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by DeborahCarol, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. This is where the nuance comes in. Personally, I think ALL kids without SEN could get a C grade if (and only if) the following conditions pervaded the system:
    1) A cultural shift in the country to make being "good" at Maths (in particular, education in general) an aspiration, rather than being able to kick a ball, sing or shag a celebrity.
    2) Kids to be kept down a year in Primary if they don't achieve a minimum standard (and make it a proper minimum standard), with serious support put in place then, rather than half-arsed support for the next 8 or 9 years .
    3) Specialist Maths teachers in Primary schools, in Secondary schools as well, for that matter.
    4) OfStEd to be abolished, along with all the numpty ideas such as League Tables for schools and Colleges; BrainGym; VAK; 3-part lessons; aspirational target setting yada yada yada.
    5) The Primary Maths curriculum to consist of learning to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Then and only then, the curriculum to be expended intot he use of other number skills, such as decimals, percentages and fractions.
    6) The GCSE to consist of three elements: Element 1 - basic numeracy in context; Element 2 - slightly harder numeracy, with useful elements of shape and statistics; Element 3 - the old O-level syllabus from, say 1980. Kids to take the relevant Element(s).
    7) Any kid who wants to disrupt the education of others to be removed from the free state provision. Parents can then choose to pay for a private school or home educate. If and when said kid is willing to toe the line, they can return to free state education, but on a contract which can involve swift removal if their behaviour merits it.
    These are in no particular order and I'm sure others will have much better ideas of what to do, but it is simply not ever going to happen, as many of the suggestions are perceived to be political suicide in this country.

    cyolba, too much time on his hands (he's got three watches on, boom boom) :)
  2. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    cybola, I don't know why you bother...!
  3. With the rubbish jokes, the rants or the wistful thinking? I'm just addicted to all three, I think. Know any good therapists?

    cyolba, inhaling the odour of roasting chicken :)
  4. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    cyolba. I agree with many of those points. Especially being kicked out of mainstream much faster.

    as long as that means they don't assume they'll get a place on Jamie'sDream School instead
  5. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    just found an edit button on the bottom of my post!
  6. I don't care what they expect, I just don't want them in my classroom acting like wankers.
    cyolba, wishing for the stars :)
  7. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    And I believe if the made the exasm easier and easier year on year then we can eventually get to a point where 90% + get a grade C and we also reach a point whee this bench mark becomes worthless - if we are not there already.
    And I am sorry I just dont agree that even with a Utopian ideal of maths teaching all kids are capable of a C grade.
  8. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Now that on the other hand has obvious appeal. But in a similar vain how would you feel about this:
    Peopel who smoke , drink to excees, over eat or have an accident that was their own fault are no longer entitled to free NHS and should be made to pay for health care until every single one of their bad habbits is stopped and they are back in good health?
  9. Sounds ok to me. But then I am a closet Daily Mail reader...

    cyolba, lurching to the right as the weeks pass at CANT :)
  10. Ok.... There is no doubt that there has been a dilution of content, O levels had calculus content and much more advanced algebraic content. There has clearly been an impact on A level, CEM say that there has been a dilution of on av 1/10 th of a grade per year over the last 20 years (a level grade C 20 years ago is equiv grade A now). 70% c+, actually it is more like 64%. But still 36% below grade c is small. I remember that O levels where taken by about 10% of the population, and sure the old CSE grade1 was said to be equiv to grade C, but even so the c+ % must have been between 10-15% at best. So quite a dramatic increase to 64%. It's easy to get an A grade, and although A* themes are challenging as mentioned earlier very few of these topics come up. Finally I think that more students have the ability to achieve c+, but social distractions/ lack of motivation/aspiration/ perseverance attendance etc are having a clear impact, just look at the national d+ figures which I think is well over 80% (havent checked this figure, just know!!!). GCSE maths is losing it's status which is why many independent schools no longer do it, preferring the iGCSE instead.
  11. You are merely giving those who are unable to take responsibility for their own learning a platform to thrive.
    ~75% on an edexcel linear foundation paper after 11 years of education can be achieved by anyone who wishes to gain access to that grade, assuming they are free of true SEN.
    50-60% of the marks are basic common sense.
  12. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Just seen that the exams are going to have to get easier:
    It's the only way that target can possibly be met.
    (OK, there's one more - if society took education as seriously as Singapore does, we'd get their results. I teach quite a few kids from Singapore and they certainly don't expect to be edutained in lessons.)
  13. Hmmm. Platform to thrive. That has a nice ring to it but I'm really not sure it applies and your following comments fail to substantiate the assertion.
    How about this? My goddaughter is a bright, intelligent educational sponge. She is a pursuing her dream of being a dancer at a conservatoire. She got a grade E in Maths GCSE even though she worked her proverbials off (and was taught by me for her final two years!). We have discussed many times her genuine anxiety at dealing with numbers and at its root is something that I feel is less comon than we would like it to be. When she first started to learn about Maths it was badly explained. No, actually, it wasn't explained. She never got it because she never knew why she had to do it. As a result she was placed in bottom sets for everything and was expected to fail. But she still got a C in Science and a B in Business Studies.
    Until education changes, particularly at Primary level, the outcomes won't change. We are all forced to dance to whatever tune happens to be playing at the time, whilst the person in charge of the record player shoots at our feet. SATs, National Curriculum, league tables, "parental choice", competition between schools for pupils (what's that about???), 5A*-C, 3 levels progress E-Bac, National Challenge floor target.The list is endless. All just different names for pig-weighing (you don't fatten a pig by weighing it every day).
    I don't go along with everything cyolba wrote but I think that at the heart of many of his political suicide ideas is the issue of funding. Give me the levels of funding that the private sector has access to (have you seen how many minibuses Millfield has - check it out on google maps - I can count at least 16 and there's empty spaces in the corner of their car park for more) and I reckon I could achieve their outcomes.
  14. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Quote from BBC report:
    "This new target would require the worst-performing secondaries to bring their results up to the level currently achieved by the average school."
  15. Question from Civil Service entrance exam June 2011:
    "'An average is a measure of central tendency'. Discuss"
  16. I taught my step-son basic calculus as a technique for solving 'nth term' problems and find-the-equation-of-a-curved-line problems - and to get his confidence up (he only found out it was called calculus afterwards).

    He has SEN so 'just recognise the shape stupid' doesn't cut it for him on graph recognition, and before the SEN-is-just-middle-class-for-lazy trolls dig in, he has a cleft through his head to prove it. (Which doesn't in any way endorse the opinion that non-visible SEN isn't real... I just wanted to head off the inevitable patronising quips about it.)

    Anyway, he thought calculus (of the O-level std) was really easy. It's just a couple of rules that you learn and apply.

    He finds 3D geometry problems much, much trickier.

    And, while those stats questions about designing questionnaires and fair surveys are seemingly banal when you look at the mark scheme, he most often dropped marks on those in his practice papers.

    Calculus has very limited applications for most careers. And our daily lives are absolutely flooded with incorrect use of statistics. When he shouts "150% of WHAT!?" at the TV, or points out that a news survey's question set was flawed, I feel hopeful that perhaps the generation we're putting through GCSE maths now will be less taken in by the scare tactics of the Daily Fail.

    So - I don't think we've got our priorities wrong there...
  17. Question from GCSE Maths 2012:

    "Michael says he would like everybody to be above average. Yvonne says this is impossible. Who is right? Give the reasons for your answer. [2 marks]"
  18. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Grove's new goal means that at least 50% the current year 7s in "challenging" schools will need to achieve those 5 "good" (does he really mean EBacc, perhaps?) GCSEs.
    I certainly wont be applying for jobs in those schools! Will anyone else?
  19. ...And another thing!

    It has always struck me that Maths teachers telling everyone else that Maths (at any level) is easy is a bit like a native English speaker telling a non-native that "speaking English is easy - I've been doing it since I was a child".
    On the whole (and, yes, I know there are exceptions) Maths teachers have been successful at Maths since an early age, doing well at GCSE/O-level, choosing and doing well at A-level, choosing and doing well at degree level. Maths (usually) comes easily to us and it is sometimes difficult to understand when someone doesn't get something "simple" like finding the area of a rectangle.

    And don't even get me started on kids who can't do algebra/fractions/decimals/percentages/etc because their parents or teachers have told them it's difficult and that they couldn't do it either.
  20. gitmath

    gitmath New commenter

    I think you've missed my point. Teaching to an exam will never stretch the most able students. Surely we need to be teaching the subject and using exams as a benchmark of where we are? The old O-level was also poor preparation in itself for study at A-level. If it was good preparation then performance at A-level would have been better. I certainly remember peers of mine who did equally well at O-level maths but then struggled to get past E (or N!) at A-level.
    Admittedly in my own (possibly limited) experience, when I was HoD at a grammar school there was a difference in the performance of students who were in one particular colleague's class compared to mine and another colleague. Her results at GCSE were outstanding but not an awful lot better than the other classes but students from her class had been taught completely to the GCSE. In mine and my other colleague's class, GCSE questions were used strictly as practice when the GCSE exam was on the horizon. At A-level, our students had developed the critical thinking skills they needed to be successful but hers struggled to meet anything like their potential. If we're talking about students in our schools being prepared for further study, teaching to an exam will not be good enough irrespective of the exam they take at the end of the course.
    There's more mileage in the C/D borderliners being more focussed on the GCSE though - they won't be taking it further generally speaking and the A*-C pass rate might improve as a result!

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