In August 2013 I looked at my timetable and saw I was down to teach Maths. Last year it was Functional Skills English (see here). I am neither an English or Maths teacher, my subject specialist is in Early Years and Health and Social Care.
Students entering Further Education who fail to achieve a GCSE grade C or above in English and/or Maths must now continue to study them in college (see here). If I had chosen a course to help me gain a relevant qualification in my chosen career and then been told I would have to attend an hour and a half lesson on Maths and English each week, I probably would have not bothered going to college! This year depending on GCSE grades students entering college will either develop their Maths and English or go on to resit their GCSE’s. I do wonder though that maybe students that have got D or below in Maths and/or English may not have a burning desire to resit them at this present time. They may prefer to engage in a course that is of interest to them and regain confidence in their educational abilities. Possibly then the determination to get C or above in Maths and/or English may return.
So here was my challenge to make that hour and half lesson enjoyable and relevant to their chosen career. I actually found that part easy as I’ve worked for some years in Early Years, Health and Social Care settings. It was creating and finding resources that was more of a challenge (although a big thanks to @fossa99 and @bucharesttutor who kindly shared their resources with me). The part that did concern me was how negative the students were towards Maths when I first taught them. Some got themselves quite worked up over the prospect of having to do Maths. It did however give me the opportunity to talk to them about their concerns and reasons they felt they had not achieved C or above. The main reason they gave was down to theirs or their peers poor behaviour in class and lack of interest in the sessions.
I have since managed to take teaching Maths off my timetable as I just didn’t feel confident enough teach it. However they have got a teacher who is far more skilled at teaching Maths than I am. I do however offer ideas on how to make it relevant to the students chosen career.
A few weeks ago I attended a staff development session for embedding Maths and English in lessons. I listened to what they had to say on it not mattering if you were a Maths or English teacher and how it was more about relating it to the vocation. I am still not so sure about this. English I love and would happily teach again, however Maths not on your life! I still go into blind panic when my own children ask for help when they have Maths homework. Memories of doing my timetables in rote fashion come flooding back, being made to stand up, stand on a chair, stand on the table (no such thing as health and safety back then) if you kept getting it wrong. I made it to the corridor once ( I think that was the eight timetables that got me out there!).
So I have two question;
- Is it okay for any teacher to teach Maths and English at GCSE level?
- Should students be made to attend Maths and English in Further Education?
*I would like to point out I was only teaching students to help develop Maths.