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General Chat Thread, Resit GCSE Maths & English - Really? in General; I don't agree with NVQ Hairdressing or Motor Vehicle here. Fail a unit/test? Try it again. Failed? try it again. ...
  1. #16
    DrPerceptron's Avatar
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    I don't agree with NVQ Hairdressing or Motor Vehicle here.

    Fail a unit/test? Try it again. Failed? try it again. Failed? try again. it goes on and on. Funnily enough we had a 100% pass rate for NVQ.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CAM View Post
    But not everyone takes an apprenticeship, a vast majority of students I have seen go through the process have taken the GCSE -> A-Level route with the possibility of going on to more stuff at uni.
    The key word be majority not everybody. The arguement being why force everybody to get above a certain grade regardless of their academic ability or if the subject holds any relevance on them personally (thus the example)? And does it devalue the grade by doing so?

    Try a more personal example,

    High school GCSE - B Office Technology, C Maths, 2xC Science, E English
    College GCSE - B Computing, D Engish, D Law
    College BTEC - National Diploma Computers Studies

    So 5 GCSE's grade C and above including Maths. Grade D in English.

    Do I really need to get a grade C in English? If so, why? Bear in mind I then went on to university without getting that particular GCSE, or any A-Levels.

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    Thanks for the comments, it's good to hear other opinions. To be honest, if I ran a building company I would rather see a vocational qualification in bricklaying than an A* in English & Maths. All I'm trying to say is that it's not for everyone and just because you fail at these subjects does not make you a failure.

    We try to fit every student through the same education system with the same emphasis on the same subjects (pretty much, Maths, Language, Science, Humanities, Arts, Sport - roughly in that order), this has been going on since compulsory education started - for some it just doesn't work. Some kids' skills maybe in the exact opposite order with Maths & English last!

    I have spoken to teachers in a local school, it's catchment area is pretty deprived, they have about 70% EAL students - not one of them disagreed with me on this.

    One teacher told me that when presented with an exam paper some kids just put their head on the table and stay that way until the end, they just do not have a chance of passing and they know it. So here's an idea for those kids, how about we try to find out what they are good at and encourage that instead?

    If you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree it will spend it's whole life thinking it is stupid. - Albert Einstein.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    A friend's daughter is studying nursing for which they must pass a maths skills test... it's quite important to be able to work out percentages for calculating drug doses for example.

    She passed first time with flying colours and then spent the rest of her first year coaching others who could not get to grips with it all. Those who still hadn't passed by the end of the first year were kicked off the course.

    Basic maths skills are more important in many jobs than we realise.

    This has made me remember an incident a few years ago when I was acting as TA to a year 4 maths class doing measurements:
    Boy slams his pencil down on the table. "I ain't doing this. My dad ain't got not qualifications. I don't need to do it"
    Me: "Your Dad is a builder. Even he had to learn how to measure things"

  5. #20

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    Basic maths skills are more important in many jobs than we realise.

    This has made me remember an incident a few years ago when I was acting as TA to a year 4 maths class doing measurements:
    Boy slams his pencil down on the table. "I ain't doing this. My dad ain't got not qualifications. I don't need to do it"
    Me: "Your Dad is a builder. Even he had to learn how to measure things"
    Interesting anecdote. I'll happily admit I've used Pythagoras more than once when measuring up for projectors. And algibra is pretty core to any programming I've done. Can't say I've found a use for quadratic equations yet though - certainly don't help solve the Countdown numbers games, that's for sure.
    @X-13 was right - GCSE is not basic English/Maths. After year 9 how much of either subject does everybody really need to know?

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    It's true Maths is very important (and, yes I do realise how important it is in many jobs!) but I haven't made my point well enough. So what do we do with kids that simply cannot make the grade? We can either put them in the "failure" bin or we can see what they may be good at and focus on that whilst continuing to teach Maths & English at a basic level.

    Maths is a beautiful subject, I've even used Pythagoras to calculate time dilation but only because I'm a sad geek. I also enjoyed Shakespeare! For non-academic jobs you need a basic grasp, you don't need GCSE level Maths. You need the basics of English, you don't need to quote Shakespeare.

    A builder can measure things without a GCSE Maths grade!

    I actually don't think that much of the curriculum is very relevant to everyday life and the skills needed, I've heard most people say that they've never needed half of what they were taught at school; surely if that's the case then the curriculum needs revising.

    I think teachers do a fantastic job in often very stressful environments (I couldn't do it!), I just think that much of what they are told to teach isn't particularly useful for most people; in fact the only people it's very useful for is those that go on to teach it.

  7. #22

    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Interesting anecdote. I'll happily admit I've used Pythagoras more than once when measuring up for projectors. And algibra is pretty core to any programming I've done. Can't say I've found a use for quadratic equations yet though - certainly don't help solve the Countdown numbers games, that's for sure.
    @X-13 was right - GCSE is not basic English/Maths. After year 9 how much of either subject does everybody really need to know?
    I had the SOHCAHTOA calculus going helping to caluate the length of the stretchers for a 3 legged stool that my sister was making a few years ago.

    It was interesting: My sister, my husband and I all came up with the same answer, but by completely different methods. We all have A Level Maths.

  8. #23


    AMLightfoot's Avatar
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    When I saw this on the news I rolled my eyes and sighed. I agree that it is a very bad plan. Don't get me started on the value of academic subjects vs vocational and skills-based courses - I could rant for hours. A good, solid vocational programme could be really productive and worthwhile for students of lower academic ability or simply differing skillsets and to ignore this in favour of forcing pupils to take GCSEs over and over again is pointless - what will happen once a theoretical student reaches 18 and the government can no longer force them to stay in school? What if they haven't passed by then?

    I agree that basic literacy and numeracy skills are important, but you don't need a GCSE. When I was at school there were different levels of Maths GCSE - Foundation for the lower ability, Intermediate and Higher. I got an A in my mock and was encouraged to take the Higher but I was scared of flunking out so took intermediate and came out with a high B (B was the highest grade you could get at Intermediate). I'm numerate enough to have obtained a Degree in Geology, a PGCE and I work in networking (broadly speaking).

    I was having a lively debate in the car the other day first with my best friend and then with LeBoyfriend - both of whom struggle with dyslexia. LeBoyfriend went back to night school to try to get his GCSE and still couldn't get past an E having obtained a G the first time around and I KNOW that he tried really hard but struggled and became angry and disillusioned and forcing thousands of dyslexic and dyscalculic (sp?) pupils to struggle again and again with the GCSE is cruel and pointless.

    I think a literacy and numeracy test testing basic life skills should be mandatory but writing compare and contrast essays on Christina Rosetti poems and Shakespere plays is not productive to anyone.

    I also think pupils should be taught in classes that cater to their abilities rather than in year groups, but that is another topic entirely.

  9. Thanks to AMLightfoot from:

    ButterflyMoon (19th September 2013)

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    Andrew_C's Avatar
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    Send me a CV without both at C or above, or with grammar like some of the posts above, and it won't get past the waste paper basket.

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    Yes, Maths & English are very important. I passed my English exam first time, But I had to resit my maths exam twice before I got a C.

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    Completely pointless. If everyone has a GCSE in English and Maths then what value does the GCSE have? It's basic "GCSE economics"; if you start printing money, you devalue the currency.

    Previously colleges would ask for grade C and above to get you on A-level courses. Once absolutely everyone has grade C what will the college do? Ask for A/A*s.

    As David Mitchell put it on QI,
    ...it's defying the point of the exam. The point of the exam is to tell people apart, not just to go "You're all great academically, everyone can be Professor of Latin, share the Professor of Latin's salary between you… and starve."
    How can we possibly tell kids apart if there are only 4 possible grades the kids can get; A*, A, B or C? And do we honestly think endless re-sits and exam coaching will actually increase the pupils competency in the subject, or will they simply learn how to pass the exam?


    What I'd like to see is, as said, a competency course/exam but based on real world situations; understanding APRs, writing letters and CVs, managing your finances. No non-academic person has ever had the need to find out what x is, they have however needed to work out how to make their wage/dole last a full week while still leaving them a tenner for a pack of tinnies and a box of fags at the weekend.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 19th September 2013 at 10:10 PM.

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    It's not completely pointless as long as the grade continues to prove a level of competence required for many occupations. There is no reason to believe it won't.

    The Grade C is seen as a basic pass... the only employers that are likely to inflate grades for Maths are those for looking for A levels as well.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_C View Post
    Send me a CV without both at C or above, or with grammar like some of the posts above, and it won't get past the waste paper basket.
    On the flip side, I recently took on a young technician without ant formal education or qualifications. He's proving to be one of the best tech's I've had the pleasure to work with. I'll always prefer a good CV that shows either experience or enthusiam (maybe even both) over perfect grammer or high school qualifications.

    Personally I think the answer is to improve the focus at KS2 rather than engage in endless resits at KS4.

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    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky View Post
    Completely pointless. If everyone has a GCSE in English and Maths then what value does the GCSE have? It's basic "GCSE economics"; if you start printing money, you devalue the currency.

    Previously colleges would ask for grade C and above to get you on A-level courses. Once absolutely everyone has grade C what will the college do? Ask for A/A*s.

    As David Mitchell put it on QI,

    How can we possibly tell kids apart if there are only 4 possible grades the kids can get; A*, A, B or C? And do we honestly think endless re-sits and exam coaching will actually increase the pupils competency in the subject, or will they simply learn how to pass the exam?


    What I'd like to see is, as said, a competency course/exam but based on real world situations; understanding APRs, writing letters and CVs, managing your finances. No non-academic person has ever had the need to find out what x is, they have however needed to work out how to make their wage/dole last a full week while still leaving them a tenner for a pack of tinnies and a box of fags at the weekend.
    thats why i think thsi constant push to get everyone to university is dumb. If everyone has a degree what does it prove?

    Secondary education imo needs some radical change my completely unworkable suggestions are as follows

    gramma schools (for want of a batter name) the really academically minded kids go here
    secondary averagely academic pople go here
    technicalm school people who arnt academically minded but have tallent for say mechanics/building etc go here to learn a trade(S)
    special school thise who just arnt fit to get in the way of other kids be it through poor behavior or actual mental/physical issues (granted they need splitting up while there but you get the point)

    this would also possibly help disenfranchised kids as some people are just never going to get say maths however much time you spend on it it wont click some people just arnt wired that way same as im not a people person you can make people less bad but not make them good at something they just dont have the aptitude for

  17. #30

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sted View Post
    Secondary education imo needs some radical change my completely unworkable suggestions are as follows

    gramma schools (for want of a batter name) the really academically minded kids go here
    secondary averagely academic pople go here
    technicalm school people who arnt academically minded but have tallent for say mechanics/building etc go here to learn a trade(S)
    special school thise who just arnt fit to get in the way of other kids be it through poor behavior or actual mental/physical issues (granted they need splitting up while there but you get the point)
    The problem with that model is when do you diffy (sp.) up the kids? I'm not sure that the 11+ was the wisest time to tell someone "your an idiot go to the idiots school". But the general approach in having a mixture of academic and non-academic courses available for 14-18 years olds without the tunnel vision of the "core subjects" makes sense.

    I wonder, rather than segragating schools, if there is any milage in getting schools/6th forms/colleges to work in a tighter local federation of schools allowing KS4 pupils to choose from a broader range of subjects and travel between local sites offering different parts of their course?

    Thus a less academically inclinde pupils might spend 2 days at a local college studying plumbing, do basic (non GCSE) numeracy and english it their local school, and maybe travel out to a school doing GCSE Archeology because that's a subject they are interested in (and thus likely to do well at).

    I think with the school leaving age raising to 18 there's much more scope to tailor education around individual needs and interests.

  18. Thanks to tmcd35 from:

    AMLightfoot (20th September 2013)

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