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Pupil Referral Unit - GCSE Maths or Functional Skills?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by moobers, May 31, 2018.

  1. moobers

    moobers New commenter

    I am the main maths teacher in a PRU and we have been deliberating whether or not to offer Functional Skills L1 and L2. We already offer the Entry Level 3 which most complete without any issues (although this is deemed to be below GCSE level). The challenge we face is that the new GCSE has made it more difficult for our students to access. It has more content, has increased difficulty and has 3 x 90 minute exams (not to mention the added impact the exam stress has on our students)

    Before the new GCSE was introduced we focused on GCSE as opposed to Functional Skills as the FS was a pass fail qualification and the GCSE had a range of grades so students were liable to get something. Also the FS has a lot of wordy questions in the exam where as the GCSE focussed more on the language of numbers not English. In short if a student could get the FS Level 1 they should get a GCSE grade so we focussed on the GCSE.

    However now we have a new GCSE with wordy questions, increased problem solving, more content and increased difficulty.

    So do we move towards Functional Skills. Can I say its content is more practical in nature with less abstract concepts? It is equivalent to half a gcse at E/D grade for Level 1 and a B grade for Level 2. Also the exams are on demand and students can have multiple attempts.

    How will our students will be recieved at College if they arrive with a L1 or L2 FS qualification?
    Is the new Functional Skills much more difficult than the old one?
    which should we go for?

    You opinions would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

    Why wouldn't you go for the GCSE option? Doing functional skills assumes that the students aren't capable of doing GCSE, which isn't always the case and further education would insist on students doing GCSE even if they achieve a high level.
     
    strawbs likes this.
  3. debrac

    debrac New commenter

    We offer both. We prefer Edexcel GCSE as the questions tend to be less 'wordy' and focus a bit more on the maths rather than the way a question is asked. The maths tends to be more obvious. Compared the Edexcel and AQA paper 1 from last week and in our opinion Edexcel was much more straightforward. I know AQA has a multiple choice element but I don't think the pay off in the way the other questions are asked is worth it.
     
  4. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    you have to offer both surely, the range of ability you will see (as opposed to attitude) must mean you have to meet their needs ?? and I agree about Edexcel, their London centric history means the language tends to be more accessible
     
  5. 50sman

    50sman Senior commenter

    Having worked in a similar school I offered both - it does depend on the ability of the students on a year by year basis
     
  6. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    This is a "parity of esteem" issue (concrete versus abstract thinking) - I didn't spot that much difference between level 2 functional, foundation tier GCSE, or QTS numeracy.
     
  7. euclidselements

    euclidselements New commenter

    I would agree with 50sman that is really depends upon the individual kids. I spent a year in a similar environment and found that some of the kids who joined us in year 11 had more traditional "GCSE" skills and could do the foundation paper more easily than the very practical functional skills papers whereas some kids who struggled with even their times tables could access the functional skills papers because they were all calculator papers. However, this was with the old GCSE that was a lot easier.
    (Oh, and the local college was happy to take level 2 as a GCSE equivalent)
     
  8. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    Depends rather a lot on your pupils but if they are like the ones I worked with in a PRU many moons ago, a positive advantage of the Functional Skills route would be the fact that you can book them to take any time and even have a little wriggle room if they don't turn up on the day. If by chance you do have the more academic sort then GCSE would serve them well for the future.
     
  9. shahidajaffer

    shahidajaffer New commenter

    At the SEMH school I work at, we also offer the Edexcel Awards at Level 1 for students who are have achieved EL3 and are unlikely to achieve a GCSE grade above 3. They tend to take the Number & Measure in January and then Statistical Methods in May. This is in conjunction with a FS L1
     
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    GCSE as default. Pupil Referral Units are not Designated Provision Units. PRU pupils have as much of a right to access GCSE as their peers elsewhere.
     
  11. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths New commenter

    I taught Functional Skills a few years ago and I wasn't quite sure what problem it was meant to solve.

    The theory seems to be that lower ability students will understand Maths better if you can link it to real life concepts and problems, which of course is true. But then the questions on the exam paper required a much higher level of literacy to understand.

    If a student has low Maths ability then they are probably going to have low English ability too?
     
  12. Stevensheppard

    Stevensheppard New commenter

    We do both as it can be quite a risky strategy for some pupils to have everything come down to a final exam. When pupils have covered and become proficient in the key topics on a FS paper, I will let them try a mock paper and then book them in for the real thing if they are ready. I want them to all get GCSE quals and we enter every year 11 pupil in for GCSE but it is always beneficial to have the FS safety net in case they have a meltdown in their GCSE or their life descends into chaos due to factors outside of the school control.
     
  13. unicorn720

    unicorn720 New commenter

    Have you looked at WJEC maths. They have two papers in just maths and two in numeracy (The wordy ones). You could just enter them for the maths paper? I know some schools outside of wales do use WJEC.

    (but in my experience when they see a name from wales you spend 30 minutes calming them down in the lesson. Maybe I just worked in PRU's where the kids found it hysterical...:D)
     

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