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Jobs that require GCSE C in Maths and those that don't

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by trinity0097, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    in the summer before my second post, borrowed a careers book from the school library. It listed careers with the official entry requirements.
    I put together a set of A5 posters using clipart and a simple text format. They showed all the careers with the grades required. Of course, as a Maths teacher I made sure I listed every job that required Maths GCSE C. I made enough to go right around my room at picture rail height.
    I wish I could find where i saved them!
    It took time, but with Mrs Hammie not working in schools, so at work for most of the summer, It was a quite pleasant way of producing a resource that i found interesting. TMS on the radio, excuse to sit there with a cup of something pleasant!
    f I ever find it, i will post it in resources!
    dunnocks likes this.
  2. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Trouble is, neither this, nor the last government agrees.
    And they're absolutely wrong to further contaminate an already over-filled GCSE maths syllabus with this stuff.
    The Functional Skills qualifications need to be recognised in their own right.
    Which is the exact opposite of what the last government did and this one is doing.
    But it won't happen under this government (they'd be accused of delivering a second-class qualification for "working class" kids while keeping the GCSE for toffs), and the last government were driven by their own ideology over the "need to give every child a quality education" and equating that with 5 GCSE A*-C..
    (FWIW, things got worse just a few days ago with the raising of targets for Primaries - there's now even more pressure on Primaries to get the magic level 4 which means there'll be even more gaiming of the SATs - focusing on grabbing the easy marks from level 5/6 questions instead of really driving in the top end of level 2/3/4 ones.)
  3. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Does it work?
    Most of the uninterested kids I've seen believe they're too good to work in McDonalds anyway..
    I honestly believe we're wasting our time and theirs trying to teach them GCSE. If they don't want to know, fine. When and IF they find out they need GCSE maths in later life, they can always do it in an evening course (where they'll actually be motivated to do the work).
    You can lead a horse to water and all that.
  4. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    I completely agree, but don't think we should excessively blame the government(s) so much as take more responsibility ourselves (as schools, and - some of you - as HoDs). When have government initiatives ever led best practice? They follow, and emulate what's best.
    I feel that many more schools should offer two distinct SoW's at KS3 - based largely upon parental and student choice (less so on prior attainment, though I'm sure there would be a close correlation). One SoW - pretty much the 'normal' one as is now implemented in most schools - pretty much assumes a knowledge of core numeracy skills. By choosing that option, you commit yourself (the student and their parents) to 'work hard to catch up on all core numeracy skills'.
    A second SoW - with explicitly different objectives - is considered more suitable for other students. It focusses very, very strongly upon students developing 'core numeracy skills for life'. It does not expect students to 'learn' the more advanced topics (formal algebraic methods, for example), but definitely *does* teach them about the existence of these topics and shows them their crucial role in modern technology (e.g. asymmetric encryption) and society (e.g game-theoretic design of the mobile phone licencing auctions). Even though these students won't learn *how* to do such maths, they (as responsible citizens) should at least learn to 'respect' the role higher-level maths has in society. [In a similar way to how modern RE lessons teach an appreciation of all religious beliefs, without attempting to make anyone believe in any of them].
    Such a scheme would, in my opinion, be much more strongly supported by some parents and that in itself would be a huge boost to the child's mathematical development (via their attitude to learning). Such a SoW simply couldn't (seriously) be criticised as 'not relevant' or 'unimportant for my child'. And it would not be intended to be 'limiting' (though it would be in the short term).Currently, we surely know that many students achieving their Grade C in Maths is the pinnacle of the achievement in Maths. Many achieve that internally vowing, I suspect, never to learn any more Maths. If some of these students were to have pursued a 'less academic' numeracy-based course at KS3 (and even KS4) then many more will have emerged with a more positive attitude and even with an interest in finding out more later in life (as PaulDG says, via adult learning of some sort)? I even advocate giving the second SoW a different subject name - something like 'Numeracy' or 'Numeracy Skills for Life' (because i) the SoW no longer is Maths - it is much narrower in its intended scope, ii) the word 'Maths' has, in this country, simply too many negative connotations and associations for some people. It's just a fact that can't be changed in the short term).
    Schools are free to implement this and show thought leadership on this now if they wish. I don't think the government is preventing it.

    I'm sure that's true. But before we bash how Primary teacher's respond to their govt-driven school targets, we seem to do exactly the same in Secondary. Don't we overwhelmingly talk about targeting Grade C (or, increasingly, ensuring 3 levels progress)? Don't we target the 'easy' topics to ensure students achieve the highest grades? In both Primary and Secondary, the explicit incentives suggest teaching in a way that ensures students 'peak' in their knowledge for a particular exam. Where's the emphasis on persistence of knowledge into adulthood? Where's our 'intervention' attempts at deeply, rigorously, filling in the gaps in students core knowledge? Aren't we professional and independent enough to (partially) resist such a crude, narrow-minded incentive as exam success?
    Whilst I know that individual teachers do this (I attempt to), I've seen very few school *systems* designed to do these things (and I've been in quite few schools over the last ~3 years). From what I've seen, many HoD's spend too long agonising over GCSE syllabus choice (which has nothing to do with actually improving student learning - just their apparent outcomes), rather than considering appropriate improvements to KS3 that could have an enduring, deep impact to students attainment, understanding, and attitude to Maths (the whole of Maths, not just numeracy, and not just the Maths taught in GCSE).
    That's how things seem from my perspective, at least. :)


  5. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    english is double entry, science is double entry. Maths shoudl be double entry, then we could do both the basics and Mathematics.
  6. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    There's probably too much pressure on heads to produce results and the pedagogical side of things gets ignored.

  7. Agree totally Guish. I once remember a professor at my university commenting that how you teach the first year undergraduates is the most important, since if you set them up correctly then the later years will be much easier for them. I think exactly the same thing applies in schools, get KS3 spot on and KS4 *should* be much easier. Far too often though maths just becomes a meaningless set of rules to try and pull out of a bag in response to triggers on a GCSE paper.
  8. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    Totally agree. The best candidates I have produced at A levels were the ones I had since the first year of their IGCSE's. I was able to mould them the way I wished.

  9. This grade C in Maths? Isn't that the qualification where the pass mark is about 20% in some modules? If you can't get a C grade, you deserve to spend the rest of your life flipping burgers.
  10. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    spot on
    and a good dose of failing and realising that it is down to your efforts or lack of them is a propoer lesson in life.
  11. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    My school's headmaster is forcing parents to push their children to do at least Mathematics AS if the students got a C or above at IGCSE Mathematics.The school will end up having a lot of unmotivated kids next year.

  12. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Our local schools seem to have understood that a C is no basis for AS (unless there a special circumstances) and are putting on "financial maths" or courses with similar titles. (No idea what the content is.)
  13. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    I told the head that the only factors that may motivate students to do Mathematics are:
    • The ability to choose from a wide range of subjects at Uni. A lot of courses need at least AS Mathematics.
    • the earning power of the students later on.
    If they are not motivated by themselves, it's more BS for us to cope with.
  14. And a lot of U grades at AS I suspect. We (along with many schools now I believe) only allow students to start AS Maths if they have an A grade or better at GCSE.
  15. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    The department has set the requirement to do AS Mathematics as a C in Mathematics IGCSE and the requirement to do A levels as B or above in IGCSE. The problem is that when s** hits the fan, the blame goes on the teacher. Today, I had three parents who complained about the environment of the classroom. Supposedly, students are noisy and their children can't work. Funnily, the students who can't work are the ones who failed or got E's in their Mid Year Exams and they are the ones with the B's or no GCSE Mathematics at all. Hence, the real problem always gets overlooked and an HOD who doesn't understand much is always an issue.
  16. You have my sympathy Guish. Last year I ran an extra lunchtime session each week for grade A/A* GCSE students to do the AQA Level 2 Further Maths qualification. I had a dozen students and all of them got A or A* on the Further Maths paper. Having seen that the HT has swamped the group this time with people who are struggling to get a grade B on the ordinary GCSE paper. Given that the sessions are in my own time, I don't think I'll be bothering again next year!
    Hope someone sees sense at your school Guish!
  17. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    I think that our situations can be viewed in the same way. Last year, all of my A level students passed. I had just 5 students and 2 of them got A's with distinctions. The other ones were GCSE grade C's and were not strong enough for B and above at A levels. Consequently, Mathematics became popular at A levels and the intake has been substantial this year. The schools is an independent international one with 250 students. 22 students got enrolled for the A level course this year. That's a really big increase.

  18. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    personally, having benefitted from the right to lunchbreaks ONLY due to previous teachers taking strike action; I will never run anything related to my teaching subject or meetings during any lunchbreak.
  19. Guish

    Guish New commenter


    With a 52 lesson teaching timetable a fortnight, lunchtime is used for photocopying or departmental meeting or house meeting anyway. I've lost the notion of free time.
  20. AshgarMary

    AshgarMary New commenter

    Two stories from pre-GCSE days:

    When I was at school, one of the kids asked the teacher what he should do if he got Grade 5 CSE (which counted as a pass and in those days, a CSE grade 4 was supposed to be what an average 16 year old was capable of and awarded for 'incomplete, muddled, confused understanding'. The teacher said "Hide it and never tell anyone". "Why, sir, it's a pass!" "It means you are officially certified very bad at maths" responded teacher.

    My own sister, very bad at maths, attended a fee-paying school that wouldn't descend to allowing pupils to do CSEs where they weren't up to GCEs. She did something called "Certificate of Proficiency in Arithmetic". As an extremely talented designer/arts type, she was accepted into university as a mature student (thereby side-stepping the usual matriculation requirements) to do a BA in Interior Design and was horrified to discover that she did, indeed, need maths - especially for calculating U-values, things like pattern-cutting, calculating quantities of materials, schedules of rates, all manner of things.

    Re the need for non-maths teachers to have a maths qualification, I used to tutor prospective PGCE students on this and IMHO, the maths included was all about reading and understanding official reports and nothing to do with actual teaching kids. After 30 years work most of it in big corporations, I can tell you that very many senior managers are a lot less capable of understanding graphs, statistics, percentages than a typical non-maths trainee teacher. At one point I managed a team of analysts and I wouldn't let them release a graph into the wild without putting at least 3 bullet points on it as to why the graph was interesting. "But it's obvious" they all cried. "But it's not! Many senior managers cannot read or understand a graph and are not going to confess that to mere underlings!"

    At one time I had several Chief Executives quaking in the room as I instructed them on the difference between mean and median in the context of asset performance reporting - I remember one gingerly putting his hand up and saying "Will there be a test later, Miss".

    Frankly, I was horrified at the lack of basic mathematical understanding of the general working population, even graduates (this was my eye-opening experience with the graphs, I had a graduate trainee in my team and at our team briefing I suddenly realized from her face that despite her First Class Honours in History from Oxbridge she had no idea what the graph meant.)

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