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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

So what happens if the child fails the second time (because with the best will in the world they are never going to get above an E) do they have to keep going until they can leave school?

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?

spg1983 Mon 02-Sep-13 12:12:07

We did the pilot for a few years for functional skills and found that the problem with the functional skills exam in maths for example was that children who had good maths skills but were weak at literacy really struggled to access the paper, i.e. understanding the questions and what was required of them, plus not being able to express their answers very well. They were getting B or A at GCSE but failing to even get level 1 functional which is equivalent to less than a C if I remember correctly?

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 12:12:26

"So what happens if the child fails the second time (because with the best will in the world they are never going to get above an E) do they have to keep going until they can leave school?"

They have to keep studying maths and English, for the whole time they remain at school. Even if they're not going to get a pass, let alone a good pass, the aim is to use the time to get them to the best possible standard. These are subjects that really make a day to day difference.

spg1983 Mon 02-Sep-13 12:17:09

Plus with our cohorts in all those years, no-one who got functional skills level 2 (the C equivalent) failed to get a C so it seemed a bit pointless as it didn't add to the numbers getting a C or above.

IceBeing Mon 02-Sep-13 12:29:54


Why oh why don't we have a system where you can retake years early on if you have fallen behind?

One repeated year in primary school could give you the confidence to perform well all the way through school which would work fantastically better than a sticking plaster at 16 when you already wasted your education because you couldn't read well....

IceBeing Mon 02-Sep-13 12:31:13

and there is that business with summer born kids under-performing all the way to A-level. They could wait a year at any point in primary and then have the same outcomes as the winter born.

It is SO dumb it makes me ANGRY.

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 13:47:40

I managed to get my August born daughter to go through school a full year behind her formal year group- she repeated a year in primary. Im not sure if nobody noticed, or nobody cared once she got to secondary, but I was never called on it.

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 13:50:19

daftdame, there are not that many jobs for brilliant artists out there that dont involve teaching. Teaching you have to have GCSE grade C maths and English- science too, I think, soon. I dont think its a good idea to refuse to do it. Baby steps get most of them there in the end.

bigkidsdidit Mon 02-Sep-13 13:56:06

In Scotland we can, Ice. My DS is January which is the equivalent k August in English schools, and I'm deferring his entry a year, which is not only allowed, it is encouraged, especially for boys. If we can manage it there is probably no good reason why England couldn't also.

itsatiggerday Mon 02-Sep-13 14:13:24

I think it's a good idea. Kid in our school failed maths GCSE repeatedly and kept saying he didn't care because he was seriously talented in art and planned to pursue that. Was predicted awesome a levels in art subjects while the school re entered him for maths in each sitting but it was when he was given a conditional offer for a degree in fine art which included a requirement for a C in maths gcse that he actually passed the thing. Motivation is a wonderful thing and if this sweeps up a bunch of kids who otherwise think it doesn't matter, then that's got to be worth it.

There will always be kids for whom the qualification itself is not doable either for SN reasons or something else and there isn't a law requiring them to sit the exams but there are a chunk of kids who just need to believe that they need to do it to do what they want to do.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 14:17:30

beastofburden Agreed, but if someone has an outstanding talent and the determination, it is possible to be successful. In fact it would be a shame to deny outstanding talent. People do make it, regardless of not having conventional skills, sometimes it is this that spurs them on...

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 14:20:05

itsatiggerday If you are successful from selling your own art you don't necessarily need a degree to do it.

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 14:20:10

DaftDame true, I do agree. And retaking GCSE as an adult is sometimes better for those people, if it comes to it. DD is retaking maths as often as she has to, because her dream is to do childcare, despite her disability which means among other things that she is shocking at Maths. but she managed to nail Cs in English and Science in her retakes, yay, so we are getting there. She doesnt resent having to get maths, its just one of those things, and she is reatking it for the third? fourth? time alongside her Level 3 childcare qualification.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 14:21:40

itsatiggerday Agreed motivation is key.

Blissx Mon 02-Sep-13 14:22:06

Doesn't make sense to me-one minute Gove is saying he wants to cut down on re-takes and the next minute the govt. are saying constant re-takes is ok just as long as it is just these two subjects and only if the child is Post-16?
Keep the previous modular system and the will be fewer pupils that this apples to.
And they say teachers need to do better....

Blissx Mon 02-Sep-13 14:22:47

Auto-correct is the devil-applies not apples!

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 14:23:09

beast Hope all goes well for your DD. smile

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 14:25:30

daftdame thank you cake and all the best to the talented artist in your family

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 14:30:11

beastofburden Not sure there is an artist, new generation, yet. I do have artist friends though.

manticlimactic Mon 02-Sep-13 14:41:19

Are they not already doing this?

My daughter took her English GCSE in yr9 then in yr 10 and then twice in yr11. Started off with an E then progressed to a D. She needed a C to get onto the college course she wanted but they took her on the course saying she just had to resit her English. She finally got a C \o/ but if she hadn't then she would have been retaking it again on the 2nd year of her course.

Now just for her to get a C in Maths hmm

Ilovefluffysheep Mon 02-Sep-13 14:45:33

I don't think my dyslexic son will ever get a C in English, and maths would be pushing it. He is very intelligent, but just can't get to grips with English in particular due to his dyslexia. The more practical subjects he is doing really well in - he recently got a B for his electronics coursework and I was so proud of him.

fancyanother Mon 02-Sep-13 14:53:48

It applies to a level 2 qualification in Maths or English, which would include functional skills qualifications at level 2, which may be more suited to those who do not take to the GCSE. However, as someone upthread said, the problem is not with teachers or in FE (I work in FE and in all the colleges I have worked in, students have to do a functional skills qualification if they don't have GCSE C in English or Maths) but with employers and some universities, who do not accept it as an equivalent qualification.

Loa Mon 02-Sep-13 14:55:07

Yes I think more help early on would be better.

However emphasising how important Maths and English grade C is can't be bad even if a small minority have such serious underlying issues they will never reach that level.

The local secondary school was boasting in local paper how well it had done in G.C.S.E - then next few sentances it showed the figures including Math and English above grade c - well over half of the pupils had failed to reach that level.

Grade C in maths and English is a basic requirement for so many jobs and other courses - yet over half that school year failed to meet that and the school still seems to think that is acceptable.

I do know they offer a G.C.S.E in dance – I can’t help but wonder how many of the good grades were in subjects like that - which is a bit sneery I suppose but I just can’t see where that gets them especially without the basics.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 15:01:47

Yes, I think the only thing this is good for is that the eduction system cannot just give up on students. They cannot not say, this is your lot and not teach them further or refuse to enter them for further resits.

Is is difficult though, because making it a compulsory requirement in Education means the students ultimately have less choice.

soul2000 Mon 02-Sep-13 15:21:25

I was saying on another thread that pupils who achieve lower than Es or Fs should be kept in school to improve on their grade"s. It seems that the Education authorities agree, i also understand that for some pupils with difficult learning conditions achieveing Es and Fs could be a great achievement. Other posters have said even those pupils when resitting the Maths/English later can achieve far greater grades.

Another thing i dont understand why pupils who struggle to achieve C grades in Maths/English are put in for so many Gcse"s. All the effort should be focused on the pupil passing Maths/English with the best grade even if first time it is not a C.

Brokensunglasses. If the school that you attended had the same resources and teacher training as today i am pretty sure you would have achieved a far greater grade than F. The best way to check and (SURPRISE) yourself about how much Maths you do know, is to go on to the many level 1-2 websites. I took a few level 2 tests for a try and despite when at school i somehow managed to get an U for Gcse Maths, scored on both level 2 tests 36 out of 40. Apparently the pass mark is 21 out of 40, and it is considered by some people as equal to a C Grade in Gcse Maths.

It is amazing how much Maths you can pick up in work or in life, and that is why pupils who fail Gcse Maths need to be encouraged to resit and improve their Maths, if the teacher can make Maths less boring and more intresting, it is amazing how pupils might stayed switch on. If a "Maths Teacher" could ask their students to work out the agent"s commission on the "Gareth Bale" deal, rather than the very old and boring way of trying to calculate how long after the "Boat had sunk" would the shark eat you type stuff. The pupils would come to the Maths lessons in anticpation, and look forward that is the best way of educating pupils not boring them.

Beastofburden Mon 02-Sep-13 15:24:41

loa- we have that problem with our school too- too many GCSEs per child, not enough focus on the ones that are really useful. Improves their league tables no end, but leaves kids without the ones they actually need. I wanted DD to take six useful ones but no, she had to do a dozen including some completely pointless ones.

am laughing as they then refuse to allow kids to progress to their sixth form, which is very aspirational, unless they have good grades. But now, I expect they will have to take all 16 year olds who want to stay, as they are not allowed to leave- and if the school did not help them get Cs in GCSE maths and English htey might not get onto courses at the FE college.

WhoreOfTheWorlds Mon 02-Sep-13 17:35:38

Agree witrh you beastofburden. A friend's ds has just passed 12 GCSEs and they're all thrilled. Except he mainly just got Cs and Ds. A couple of Bs I think? Some of the subjects I'd never even heard of.

Surely better to take 6 or 7 and really focus on them and get good grades.

Dackyduddles Mon 02-Sep-13 17:44:49

I snorted so hard when I read this. Some kids would be older than the teachers in the end'

Of course you are right. Just makes a good headline doesn't it?

mrscog Mon 02-Sep-13 19:11:16

Yes I agree it should be easier to repeat years earlier on in school - possibly restricted to reception and Yr1 before children get too aware of 'being kept behind'. Now some form of education is compulsory until 18 it would all balance out by the end anyway. It need not be humiliating/an issue if normal and handled well.

Re Functional Skills, yes the literacy burden was an issue in the maths, but it does replicate part of what you need to be able to do mathematically in real life - work out from written information what's required. I also agree there was not enough awareness created among employers/unis who would probably be delighted with the concept if it were understood. DH employed an apprentice with a C grade GCSE maths who was unable to use scales to weigh parcels accurately to the nearest 100g - a Level 3/4 NC skill I think - shocking.

soul2000 Mon 02-Sep-13 23:08:53

I want to tell a story about a friend of mine that when she joined Secondary School was deemed to be "THICK" and unteachable.

My friend was withdrawn and unable to particapate in any classwork or academic work. She was considered un teachable and even dangerous. When science lessons took place, my friend even in yr 9 was taken out of the classroom and placed with the year head. She was given colouring books insted of being in the Chemistry lesson, She was banned from Art and other classes for the noises she would make.

When my friend left School 23 years ago she did so without a single qualification of any sort.She had totally ilegible handwriting and was unable to continue any form of much needed Education.

Fast forward 10 years and said friend starts coming to the local pub Quiz, she amazes people with her General Knowledge and after much badgering agrees to, undertake some Adult Education classes. She does "Amazing" after 2 years achieveing 5 A Grades at Gcse including Maths/English Chemistry, after many reservations she agrees to do A levels in Maths/ Chemistry and English.

Two years further down the line and friends A level results come out and to her amazement she gets A Chemistry A Maths and a B in English.So she decides to read Chemistry at University, and after 3 years gains a 2:1 in Chemistry she then decides to do her masters.

My friend is just about to start her second year as a Chemistry Teacher, completing her N.Q.T year at 38 years of age. Not a bad achievement for someone who the school deemed was uncapable of learning anything.

Should my friend have said "I Could never get a C at Maths/English. Was this just disgraceful labelling of my friend and a very appalling level of teaching. This did not give my friend the special teaching she needed to achieve her academic potential.

Beastofburden Tue 03-Sep-13 09:21:10

I think the idea behind the new rules is not to allow kids to give up aged only 16, but make them persevere. You dont have to get a grade C at 16, but you are probably going to need one eventually to get a job, so adults need to be encouraged to keep going at it. Your friend's story shows how wrong it is to write people off just because aged 14 they are not ready to do it.

And yes, the school was clearly rubbish.

soul2000 Tue 03-Sep-13 11:52:19

I am going to tell the rest of the story because it is inspiring and tells you that there is always a future.

Everyday friend used to get up and leave to go to school with her elder sister. Her sister would then get on the bus and go to the "Girls Grammar School" friend then walked to the nearby "DUMP", Sister excelled at school and went on to read Law at Cambridge eventually becoming a Barrister.

Friend leaves school with no qualifications at all, her dad managed to get her a little job helping out at the local "NEWSAGENTS" counting Newspapers selling sweets and fizzy drinks. Her parents thought this was as good a job as was possible for friend. By the time she turned 18 she had got a bit more confidence and decided to do some work in the local pub . The work was mainly bar work waitressing on saturday and sunday afternoons.

In 2000 her parents decided to move up to the North west,and because friend has always lived with her parents moved with them, she took bar work at the pub in the village. Friend would join in with the pub quiz and would always seem to know the answer to every question and when she was asked what A Levels or Degree she had, would just laugh.

When friend decided to go to some Adult Education classes, she told her "ESTEEMED" sister she was going to do some Gcse"s, her sister "SMILLED" and said "PITY THE POOR TEACHERS" . Her sister is not a particulary nice person.

Fast forward to "Graduation Day" and friends mum and dad are in uncontrollable tears of joy, sister sits there with a face like "THUNDER" talk about curdling the milk.

My friend has been described by her line manager and members of the SLT, as the best NQT Teacher they have ever had,in fact she is so liked by all the pupils and teachers that some pupils actually look forward to having a Detention with her. She has to keep a straight face when telling said pupils that Detention is a Punishment not a reward.

She has proposed that if the school will allow her to use classrooms on saturday that she will every saturday morning from 9-11 am have Maths classes for all students but particulary those who are D-F Grades. This has called problems with the Maths Dept who are unwilling to help and tell her to stick to Chemistry and stay out of our dept. This is Unfortunate and sad that such a talented teacher can not give more back because of some "DINOSAURS".

My friend would never put a "CEILING" on what any pupil can achieve and yes it is a great achievement for one pupil to acheive a F. It does not mean they can not do better.

But for some "QUIRKS" of fate a brilliant teacher would not have found her way to the "Classroom" and despite her telling me "THAT SHE WOULD NOT OWE 40k" Teaching would be poorer without her.

daftdame Tue 03-Sep-13 14:44:10

soul2000 Your friend sounds absolutely fab. I hope my DS comes across a teacher like her but she does sound like one in a million. Just shows how wrong it is to 'write people off'.

soul2000 Tue 03-Sep-13 19:18:45

Daftdame. yes my friend is a one in a million Teacher/Person. The kind of snide comments she has taken from her sister over the years. These types of comments are "well if i had stayed at home rent free i could have got a Masters" I went to Cambridge you to RG at " 30" I was earning x while you were serving Chips.

But Probably the most upsetting was " I could teach with my eyes closed", obviously designed to make friend feel small. When sisters friend comes to visit her mum and dad, on occasions she has caused heartache by asking why are there so many pictures of Sisters Graduation. I went to Cambridge so why are there not more pictures of me than her.

The great thing about friend is that she lets all her sisters jealousy go right over her head. I know this is off topic but i think it demonstrates that no matter what people or even your own family members think ,you can achieve great things.

soul2000 Tue 03-Sep-13 19:31:45

When friend"s Sister comes to visit.

Lilka Tue 03-Sep-13 20:09:24

I think this move is the right thing for some students, who may be more motivated to work and get a slightly higher grade

I'm just glad it doesn't affect my own DD2, who completed 4 GCSE's last year (with an E in maths and an F in English).

She only achieved those grades (in spite of her learning disability, neurological damage caused by alcohol exposure in utero, and significant emotional and mental health issues) with years of dedicated amazing work by her teachers (at a specialist EBD school), with medication, with some social work involvment and with therapy from CAMHS and a specialist centre)

She wouln't hold a pencil and couldn't recognise the alphabet aged 8, and she could only count up to 5. She couldn't write her own name until aged 10, nor count up beyond 10. Only when the effects of therapy, medication, stability and great teaching were making themselves felt, did she begin to really progress. She proved that it wasn't her LD's or brain damage holding her back at that point. We made great progress up to a certain point, and then stalled. In this case, some E grade and all D grade GCSE maths topics were too much, although her teachers really tried hard. She's also done seperate maths lessons focussed on day-to-day maths skills.

I (and the school) am so proud of her and have heaped the praise on for what she has achieved. Going from reception to (just an) E grade Level in 6 years is fantastic. However in her situation, unless her emotional issues and mental health gets better, she won't realistically be able to achieve more. If things get better as she matures into her twenties, then adult education classes may well be a good idea. But now? No. There's very little chance at all of a higher result.

Also being told she wasn't good enough after all her hard work would be pretty crushing, and given her issues likely to make her start refusing to work any more

So basically I think this move should include opt outs where teachers or whoever is responsible can use discretion in the case of students who have genuine issues which mean a C is out of reach and that student can be exempted from retaking the exams.

Talkinpeace Tue 03-Sep-13 20:16:48

multiple modules and retakes are no longer permitted at GCSE.

Presumably this new rule will not apply to those SEN pupils for whom GCSEs will always be an irrelevance.

Beastofburden Wed 04-Sep-13 14:04:46

Lilka, I would assume that students who are statemented would be exempt. DS2 has a statement that allows him to ignore the national curriculum, thankfully, as he has very profound learning disabilities and the idea of him sitting any exam, ever, is just funny.

DD OTOH is less affected by the same condition, and in her case it is a good thing that her FE College will let her do retakes until she scores a C (if she ever does....). But again, I think that FE Colleges will allow people to retake GCSEs- I get the impression whats being banned is multiple attempts within the same year, and sitting stuff in January, not going round again for another go the following year?

Lilka Wed 04-Sep-13 14:29:24

Yes it's multiple retakes in the same year that are being banned.

I would hope statemented students could easily be exempted if necessary, but I think there are some non-statemented students who should be exempt as well, that's where I think the real problem will lie since I assume the majority of retakers will be non-statemented. I know GCSE students who've sadly developed serious issues whilst in the GCSE years and don't have statements, or who've never had a statement but haways had issues and still won't reasonably be able to achieve a C by retaking a year. I'd also like to see some way to get exemption for those students. One size fits all won't work

Lilka Wed 04-Sep-13 14:34:20

Actually, the information the government have given out seems to be very lacking - I haven't yet found any document clearly spelling out what's happening and who has to do what. Like which students are exempt for instance

Ditto the leaving age raising - lots saying the basics, nothing clearly spelling out who is responsible for xyz, what sanctions are for students who don't show up, what happens if no place for the 16 year old can be found anywhere, who has to make sure every student has secured further education etc etc

They really need to clearly spell out all the information in one place and put it out there very clearly for everyone to see

noblegiraffe Wed 04-Sep-13 14:51:02

I've taught GCSE maths resit, our school won't let you stay in 6th form unless you have maths and English, or resit them.

The ones that were motivated and knew what they wanted (e.g. needed a C for nursing) got there. The ones that were taking the course because they had to didn't. They saw it as a doss lesson. One lad by the end of Y12 had six final GCSE certificates, all at grade D. He could have got a C with a bit of effort but ever made it.

I've also taught bottom set Y11. Kids who will get an F or an E, despite working hard. They heave a sigh of relief knowing they can finally give up maths. They have spent the last 5 years doing the same things over and over again, the same things they failed at in primary school. For them, secondary maths is an awful experience.

Unless the approach in Y12 is substantially different to previous years, I can't see this rule helping either group. GCSE maths isn't fit for purpose, if Gove wants kids who are numerate enough for the workplace, then he needs to be looking somewhere else. Flogging struggling kids through algebra that they will never be able to use in real life just feels unethical.

Beastofburden Wed 04-Sep-13 15:59:20

At FE College people like my DD who got F last time arent expected to take GCSE, they do Functional Skills level 1 and then level 2 the year after. if employers could be persuaded to accept FS2 as equivalent to grade C (not all do) then that might be a way forward, as those skills are actually quite a good protection against being ripped off in later life.

Lilka Wed 04-Sep-13 16:09:28

My DD2 has also been doing Functional Skills 1, (and did other bits of functional maths when she was in school) alongside a vocational course now, but I know most employers won't see it as having worth. She's struggling a bit with parts and she needs support and help from me with some of it.

Which leaves resitting GCSE but as an adult once/if her emotional and mental health gets any better and hoping for a C so she can get a job

I also think there needs to be a real change to what happens in Maths

mrscog Wed 04-Sep-13 22:03:21

You're right - FS needs to become the 'common sense gateway' qualification for maths, and it should be expected of nearly everyone (SEN aside). Bright kids could get it done out the way as early as Yr 8/9 and then focus on GCSE, others could tackle it at the same time or instead of GCSE.

noblegiraffe Wed 04-Sep-13 22:10:31

A pass in functional maths was going to be required to get a C in GCSE maths a few years back. Our Y9 sat the pilot. Then the September it was supposed to become mandatory, the whole scheme was pulled.

It was decided to integrate the functional maths into maths GCSE instead. Now maths GCSE is a hodge podge of numeracy, problem solving and pure mathematics that neither show the lower end capable of being ready for the real world (teach them easy algebra marks to make up for their deficiency in functional skills) nor does it stretch the top end sufficiently to prepare them for further study.

YoureAllABunchOfBastards Wed 04-Sep-13 22:12:47

Like most of Gove's ideas, this one is ill thought through bollocks.

kim147 Wed 04-Sep-13 22:17:43

Didn't the Vorderman report suggest different qualifications in "maths" and "numeracy"?

soul2000 Wed 04-Sep-13 22:25:18

i have said up thread that why can they not make maths intresting for students. Those who are not going to do A levels in Maths or other relevant subjects. These kids have no desire or need to understand Algebra/ or other parts of maths that just make many kids fall asleep. Regarding Level 1-2 functioning skills i am pretty sure that most bright pupils would be up to that standard at yr9 because the tests look very similar to the CSSE 11+ past papers in Maths for "SUPER BRIGHT 10/11 yr olds".

Lazyjaney Wed 04-Sep-13 22:34:42

What happens to the kids who are just never going to get C grades?

kim147 Wed 04-Sep-13 22:36:53

That is a good question. I don't think they need to get a C grade but funding for courses is dependant on them "studying more maths". I am not sure if an actual exam is needed but they either need to get a C grade (or equivalent) or study more maths to be allowed on some courses.

That bit was not clearly explained by the Government.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 04-Sep-13 22:45:31

I think we need to look at employers tbh and stop pushing people who are incapable of passing GCSE English and/or maths.
Many jobs don't need you to be good at English or Maths, obviously if you are going into work that does require them you should have them.
I am dyslexic and struggled terribly at school. Eventually I passed a level 2 in Eng and Maths at college through inclusive learning.
I am a qualified teacher (Post Compulsory) although don't teach now.
I have a lot of experience listening to people who worry about passing these tests and know how it feels myself.
I was never held back without the GCSE's as the jobs I went for didn't require them and employers didn't expect them.

jlee1 Sat 30-Nov-13 12:13:14

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Rufus44 Sat 30-Nov-13 12:34:55

I think there should be two options for maths, one the full Monty GCSE and the other covering business maths

The business maths would be straightforward adding and subtracting but based around balancing budgets, maybe a bit of book keeping etc

Leaving algebra, phythagoras theory etc out of the exam. Those things are an absolute bugger and a lot of people never use them again

It's shouldn't be easier to pass as such but it should not deal with "pure" maths

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 30-Nov-13 12:46:36


I endured years of being told I was under confident with maths. No, I bloody well couldn't do it. I go a C but only because I had a tutor.

It wasn't until I worked in a money handling role after my GCSE's that I "got" it. I could now merrily do everyone's monthly budgets and accounts.

Maths is fetishised at schools in an odd way. It is all purely academic teaching things few will use in real life (Pythagoras theory anyone?) but no teaching children how to manage money. Ridiculous.

ForeverDarkrai Mon 02-Dec-13 16:58:35

I couldn't agree more with this!
I'm now at university in Loughborough but I used to tutor Maths to a couple of girls in Years 2 and 6 and they were both talented but they never had their brains stretched to reach their full potential.. I was told that they were struggling in class but it wasn't because of their ability, it was because they had been working at a much lower level than they should have been and, as a result, they fell behind because they got bored.
But then you have the other side of the table where students may not be as able but then do not get the attention they need.. My younger sister fitted into this boat. It's like some schools (not all!) just try to fit down the middle road when they should be catering for everyone's needs and abilities like they used to.

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