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Who should provide the calcs in the exam, them or us??!!!!!

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by nuts88, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. nuts88

    nuts88 New commenter

    What's the point in naggin' the kids to "bring your own equipment" and warning them that we will not provide calcs for you, "you MUST bring your own, or do without". Then, when it actually comes down to the exam and the usual suspects "forget" theirs, the boss then swans off and returns with half a dozen calcs to hand out.
    Who thinks we should supply them with everything and who thinks they should be brought up to be independent and self-sufficient? Is anyone "in-between"?
    Just so you know, my school is not in a deprived area and has no "free school meals", so Parents not being able to afford a calc is not an issue here.
    Any comments or thoughts please?!!
     
  2. nuts88

    nuts88 New commenter

    What's the point in naggin' the kids to "bring your own equipment" and warning them that we will not provide calcs for you, "you MUST bring your own, or do without". Then, when it actually comes down to the exam and the usual suspects "forget" theirs, the boss then swans off and returns with half a dozen calcs to hand out.
    Who thinks we should supply them with everything and who thinks they should be brought up to be independent and self-sufficient? Is anyone "in-between"?
    Just so you know, my school is not in a deprived area and has no "free school meals", so Parents not being able to afford a calc is not an issue here.
    Any comments or thoughts please?!!
     
  3. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    We don't lend ANY equipment in Mock exams at all. Quite a few forgot their protractor yesterday and may have suffered because of it, but they were given many reminders. In the real exams we have to have calculators to hand in case theirs break down, and we do lend equipment if only so they can get the grade they're capable of. But if the message hasn't sunk in by their last day of Maths ever, there's no point in pushing grades down for the sake of making a point.
     
  4. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    It's a tough one, isn't it?

    From one point of view, a maths exam is there to test their maths skills, not their organisational ability, so why should we not compensate for that lack?

    On the other hand, isn't education supposed to be about more than "just passing exams", in which case the important lesson of "bring your kit" is an important one..."

    But, of course, the most important criteria of all is that the school's GCSE pass rate must hit a magic number. So we must do everything short of actually doing the exam for them to get them through it.

    (Personally, I'm relaxed about lending calculators - I'm more upset that they can't use the bloomin things even when they are given them. And lending a calculator is nothing in the "scheme of things". One school I was at had teachers driving out to collect kids who'd overslept on one exam day (mustn't let those stats drop!) - lending a £5 calculator doesn't really compare with that.)
     
  5. DM

    DM New commenter

    We don't lend calculators out (unless they break during an exam). If the students don't have one in the morning they get a consequence. If they get three consequences they serve a detention. If they don't have one in an exam, tough.
     
  6. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Didn't we have the same discussion a while back?
    We don't. Some do. Swings and roundabouts.
     
  7. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    What's the big deal with lending out a few measly calcs? In class, I take a firm line on this, and there are consequences for people who consistently forget equipment. But......Are there not more important things to worry about? Not handing out a calc in an exam to someone simply because you 'won't' is just petty....
     
  8. In one of my training schools, the exams officer bought enough for a whole cohort from her own budget!
    The main reason I want them to have their own is so that they know how to use them. Unfortunately, the calculators the exams officer bought were NOT the ones we used in the department. So, when those who never brought one to class came in suitably unequipped for their exam they were faced with a calculator they had only seen once or twice ... and most couldn't convert between fractions and decimals when given the calculator gave the former as the answer!!
    My current school has a policy of "needs must" ... ie encourage them to have their own, but be prepared to lend some (MANY!!) on the day.
     
  9. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    I was furious when a student told me his calculator had stopped working in the exam, and the invigilators did not have a spare for that situation.

    I tutored a girl who turned up as ill-equipped and disinterested for tuition as she probably did for school maths lessons. She finally brought her calculator the day before the calculator paper, only because I'd reminded her when she rang the night before. She needed to find sqrt11, which the calculator gave her in surd form. She had no clue how to sort that.

    Maybe if the exams office have this sort, the best plan would be to have a lesson where they are made to use those, with some suitable questions to throw up as many problems as possible. Perhaps they might be inclined to bring their own if they know they can't work the exams ones.
     
  10. nuts88

    nuts88 New commenter

    Very mixed responses, thanks for replying everyone.
    I understand the "we need to get the best results for the school" attitude, but don't agree we should spoon-feed / mollycoddle the students in order to achieve that - I think that is a slippery slope that so many of us have jumped on.
    I can see why some may think it is just petty to make a big deal out of giving calcs out. But, where do you stop? Shall we give them all pens? pencils? In fact why not tell them all to bring nothing with them, that way everyone will have a sharp pencil, pen with ink and a calc they have used for the past 5 years. I wonder how long it would take for the knock on effect of the students bringing nothing to the lessons?
    We're trying to make our kids ready for the "real world" and yes, whilst I'm only talking about equipment for an exam, it's the whole principle I have a problem with. Whilst there are exceptions in every situation, there is no point in punishing/reprimading students for not bringing their own equipment to lessons, but then saying "don't worry about it if you forget for your exam, we will supply it, 'cos we need the good results!" - another slippery slope.
    At 16 yrs of age you can go on holiday on your own. I wonder how many times a 16 yr old has turned up at check-in without their passport, only to be told "no problem, I have a spare one for you"! Again...... it's the principle not specifics.
     
  11. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    We 'encourage' students to get their own equipment for the exam, the problem we find is that students often lose it if they buy it well before and so we sell exam packs on exam day (for 50p - not including calculator) and to be honest, I will happily buy it back at the end as I feel many just lose it/break it.
    If they don't have calc on exam day, then they can 'lend' one is exchange for soemthing they want back. Also (which I think is a valid point) students say that they have a scientific calculator app on their phones now. Why would they need a separate calculator.
    I equally know that quite a few schools will not loan out equipment, to me I'm not really fussed.

     
  12. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I agree that students should provide their own calculators. They should also bring their own calculator to lessons so they are familiar with it. We do have them available to borrow in real exams but we try to enforce them bringing their own by not lending them in mocks.
    Any students who did not bring their own calculator to the mock were given a detention and we sent letters home to their parents from the Head.
    Since that rule I have ended up with 3 new Casios, with no names on, left in my classroom and never claimed. I don't know whether they bought new ones for the real exam or not.
    We sell the calculators in school to make things easier and always do a roaring trade at Parents' Evenings.
     
  13. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    I assume you are quoting the pupils here! They clearly can't use their phone's calculator in the exam, so they need to get used to the one they will use.

    I sometimes lend out graphical calculators to pupils just before an exam and they hate using them. The pi button is not obvious, standard form looks different, the divide symbol looks funny, etc. This helps to explain to the pupils why they need to get their own calc and to learn to use it.

    Dept policy is only to lend out calcs if the pupil's own one is broken. It is surprising how many calculators seem to break as they are carried into an exam hall...
     
  14. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    So, you've never forgotten anything....!? Granted, some kids can't be bothered. But that goes with the territory. If you make up some rule about not giving out equipment, as a matter of principle, then IMO the principle needs re-examining.
    In the context of an exam, have some humanity. There's a time and a place to make an issue of this, and neither the time nor the place is during a public exam.
    There is no slippery slope. In well over 20 years, I've never known halcyon days when all kids did as they were supposed to. Kids always push at boundaries. It can be annoying, but it shouldn't be a surprise. It goes with the territory...
     
  15. The Maths GCSE exam should be about informing an employer/post-16 education establishment or whatever about the mathematical skills for a student.

    A reference is the appropriate place to comment on a student's organisational skills.
     
  16. The ones who fail their Performance Management if the pupils don't get their grades!
     
  17. Batsheep

    Batsheep New commenter

    Our exams office has a heap of claculators - they bought some a few years ago (picking the sort the department recommended) and have gained a few more from unclaimed lost property. They all have 'EXAMS' written on them in bright pink nail varnish to discourage boys (it's a boys school) from taking them away at the end.
     
  18. It's another step on the downward spiral engendered by the league tables.
    Student sused to have responsibility to bring equipment, the textbook they'd been loaned and their exercise book to all lessons.
    First, we stopped giving out textbooks, because they didn't bring them, or lost or defaced them. Rather than punishing them, we acquiesced. So, the behaviour of the few hurts the learning chances of the many.
    Then, because kids left exercise books at home, rather than punishing them, we kept the exercise books, so less learning took place.
    Then, because some couldn't be bothered to get a calculator, or equpment, we provided that. Result, the kids break or deface the equipment, have no responsibility for their own learning and the cost to the school spirals.
    Now, we give kids repeated copies of exam timetbales, send them text messages to remind them to attend and then provide everything they need for the exam, as well as doing coursework for them and generally making their lives so easy only an *** could fail GCSEs in any subject.
    What next? Will we have to wipe their bums in secondary as they certainly haven't learned to do this by primary age? Will we have to chew their food for them?
    cyolba, wishing it was the child's fault if they failed an exam :)
     
  19. Thanks Cyolba, you've just made me chuckle. Maybe that wasn't your intention though.

     
  20. In my school half the class will have nothing to write with and nobody has both pen and pencil. It drives me mad and delays the start of every lesson but I'm fairly new at the school and have been told to just ignore it and lend, lend, lend.
    Some of my more able students have been making mistakes on calculator questions recently, having used the app on their phones to solve trig questions. I don't know why, but their answers are WAY off. Has anyone else noticed this?
     

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