to think that instead of insisting students who don't get C in maths and English continue it post 16, the Government should put a lot more resources into supporting them a lot earlier?

(79 Posts)
kim147 Mon 02-Sep-13 10:38:36

Maths and English are essential skills an employer is looking for. And there's no doubt that many pupils do struggle in these subjects at school. I also recognise that there are students who don't take them seriously at school so possibly the reality at post 16 that they have to do more studying might make them try harder.

However - many pupils do struggle with maths and English and schools do know who they are. So wouldn't it be better if more resources were put in earlier, targeted teaching, specialised teaching for those who have dyscalcula and a focus on the actual maths / English skills employers need rather than "mathematics" - Pythagoras etc which only have specific applications.

Will resources and funding be provided in primary and secondary schools?

filee777 Mon 02-Sep-13 10:40:53

I think that knowing you'd have to carry on with schooling after 16 if you don't pass, will encourage a lot of children to work harder to pass which will make the teachers able to concentrate on those who are really struggling.
I really wish someone had of explained to me the importance of gcse maths!

catinabox Mon 02-Sep-13 10:47:01

I wish that this was the rule when i'd been at school. GCSE maths is so much harder to tackle at 32!!

I cynically think that this is more about squeezing youth unemployment figures than much else though.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 02-Sep-13 10:52:14

It would be nice, wouldn't it?

I think it needs to be really early. If a child has been 'failing' for two or three years, even (which isn't long compared to getting to age 16), they will already have huge additional problem with confidence and with half-learned coping strategies that they tried to use to make up for not understanding. Especially with maths, it's really horrible to be one of those who get by on rote-learned rules and guesswork.

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 10:52:26

what would have helped my disabled DD would have been- if her comprehensive school had allowed to to take just six GCSEs - English, English Language, Maths, Science, and two for fun, say Art and Drama- instead of insisting on 12, including a whole load of useless tat she will never use again and most of which she failed anyway.

She went to FE college and retook 5 subjects, and nailed Cs in English and Sciences, yay, just the maths to go now.....

FE colleges are ace, and I think that retaking Maths and English GCSE alongside a vocational training is a great package for many 17 year olds.

cory Mon 02-Sep-13 10:58:59

Too narrow focusing on the actual English skills required by employers can be very limiting- and risk missing out essential skills.

This was very much the case when I went to school in Sweden in the 70's. As a result we got very good at filling in forms and reading timetables, but did not have the deeper ability to analyse other people's thoughts or marshal our own which essays on literature might have provided.

English pupils are rotten at languages- that is well known. But when it comes to handling their own language they are miles ahead of the Swedes. Especially in spoken skills. It's not because of some innate rhetorical ability- it's because they have been taught. Drama lessons, essays on Shakespeare, "use more descriptive adjectives in your essay"- they may seem like a superfluous waste of time, but they do actually do something.

Have just been listening to some Swedish documentaries- they are cringe-makingly bad. That kind of person wouldn't stand a chance in a job interview.

TheUglyFuckling Mon 02-Sep-13 11:04:17

Agree with LRDMaguli. Teachers need to ensure that young children have definitely got to grips with the basics otherwise they just coast along copying a bit from their desk mates and guessing, and just fudging it through. It can take teachers months to notice they're not coping, even years. And by then it's usually too late and too much damage has been done.

The poor child has totally lost confidence and will always assume they aren't any good at maths or English sad That becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 02-Sep-13 11:06:40

I do think it's really difficult for teachers, to be fair.

They have a whole class, and if you've got a child who cannot read at age 7 or 8, or a child who still doesn't understand number bonds to 10 at age 8, that child really needs a separate curriculum, which must be extremely difficult to provide.

What I mean is, it's not individual teachers though I know some teachers are brilliant and somehow manage to make progress, it's that there needs to be more capacity in the system to help these children catch up.

BrokenSunglasses Mon 02-Sep-13 11:11:21

I do think there is a place for a course that teaches 'real life' maths skills to those of us that struggle with maths. There is no point in forcing teenagers to keep going with maths that they are never going to remember beyond the exam (if they even get that far) when it's going to be no real use to them in later life.

However, it will encourage students to work harder at subjects they are struggling with if they know from the start that they will have to keep going until they get a decent grade.

There will always be space for more resources and more teaching to be thrown at struggling pupils, but at some point, students have to take responsibility for themselves. If they need extra support then it's out there for them to take, rather than be given. There are loads of online resources that GCSE students can access nowadays, and there comes a point when parents have to step in and help too. It's not just down to schools and the government to ensure that people leave school with an acceptable level of maths and English. Parents and students have a massive responsibility too.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Mon 02-Sep-13 11:13:11

Level 2 qualifications are a bit more targeted at 'real life' type skills, I think.

SilverApples Mon 02-Sep-13 11:15:58

If the government would stop arsing around with the primary curriculum for a few years, then we might see some consistency and embedding of good teaching strategies in core subjects.

spg1983 Mon 02-Sep-13 11:16:13

There is money for this isn't there? At the school I work at, we get government funding for intervention with children who are below target and not expected to get Cs. They then get 1-1 tuition in Eng and maths where needed from year 7 onwards. We are just a standard comprehensive school, this money must be available to all schools.

kim147 Mon 02-Sep-13 11:20:41

The 1-1 tuition programme was dropped a few years ago. There is the pupil premium which is helpful.

spg1983 Mon 02-Sep-13 11:24:03

Ok, well it is still going strong (with more pupils than ever) in our school, which shows there are ways to keep it going...we have a much lower than average level of free school meals etc so a low pupil premium amount given to the school but they have found the money somewhere because the scheme really works for us.

Jan49 Mon 02-Sep-13 11:28:42

If this had been announced when my ds was about 15, I'd have found it upsetting. Some children can't manage to get those grades no matter how hard they try or what support they get. As a parent it makes you feel like they're telling you your child will be unemployable, so goodness know what it feels like for the child.sad

But yes, I think probably there ought to be more support at a younger age. My ds is autistic and always had issues with maths. We helped him at home and did Kumon but it made little difference. He got a low grade in the GCSE Maths. Then he retook it over 2 years alongside A levels at college and amazingly got a C, which I really didn't think possible. I think the college's attitude really helped. They were very positive and encouraging and believed he could do it, whereas his school seemed to think he just needed to try harder and have a more "can do" attitude.

BrokenSunglasses Mon 02-Sep-13 11:35:07

I like that I'm going to be able to tell my children that they have to keep going at it until they make the grade if this goes ahead.

While I appreciate that there are a lot of children who won't be able to achieve a C in their GCSEs first time round, there are a lot more that would make a higher grade if they made enough effort.

I got an F in maths GCSE. I hated it because I found it so hard. So I stopped trying. If I'd have known that I would have had to keep doing it until I got a C, I'm 100% certain I'd have got higher than an F. I might not have achieved a C the first time round, but I'd have done better than I did, and I would have been a lot easier to retake back then than it would be for me to start from scratch now that I'm in my 30s.

TheUglyFuckling Mon 02-Sep-13 11:40:37

Yes I agree with you LRDMaguli, in a class of 30 children it must be so easy for a child to get overlooked through no real fault of the teacher.

BelaLugosisShed Mon 02-Sep-13 11:48:05

Hmm, my DD has started her teaching career today, she's an NQ Maths teacher in a local high school, one of her classes consists of year 7 kids, 19 out of the twenty have moderate-severe LD or behavioural issues - how are they meant to achieve a grade c if most can't even tell the time at 11 years old?

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 11:54:44

in childcare you have needed Grade C in Maths and English for a while now, and many of the teaching assistants at our school have been retaking GCSE english and maths as adults.

mrscog Mon 02-Sep-13 11:58:07

There was a 'real life maths skills' qualification. It was called functional skills, it's excellent. Neither the Labour government or the coalition have been brave enough to implement it due to pressure from FE and teachers.

mrscog Mon 02-Sep-13 12:00:08

And, what was terrifying about the qualification was that as it focused on basic real life skills and applying them, that in maths particularly, even young people who had an A grade GCSE struggled without the prescription of what to do.

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 12:02:06

Throwing new money at a perceived problem has been shown time and time again not to work. There was no positive explosion on literacy/numeracy outcomes during the rocketing spending since 1997 nor the curriculum/approach that was prevalent then.

It comes down to what happens in particular schools and classrooms, and unless we want a massive expansion in government monitoring I don't see there is a way to this other than to expect teachers to be effective professionals.

SuffolkNWhat Mon 02-Sep-13 12:05:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 12:08:07

My DD took functional siklls level 1 and she might do level 2 instead of GCSE, but the problem is, not all epmployers recognise it.

YY to retakes until you get there, otherwise you may well not get a job. Leaving school is not all that, if you end up out of work at home.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 12:10:36

If a child just does not achieve from multiple attempts how long does this have to go on for?

Can they not just get on with their lives and make the post of what they have- they might be brilliant artists for example?

Or do they have to stay studying until this is achieved? Scary thought!

Realistically I suppose you could opt out of NC and home school?

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