Welsh Education minister Kirsty Williams is to give details today of a new mathematics iniotiative to improve mathematics education in Wales. This is an exciting move for us at Lawler Education/Studymates and we await eagerly the details.
In the autumn/fall of 2015 we are making the lives of teenagers far harder than ever before. This is what raising standards in education actually means. It means that exams will be harder. In mathematics there is work going into the GCSE that was previously in the A level and students and indeed teachers will need to cover about 1/3 more work. This makes the GCSE in mathematics one of the most challenging exams for 16 year olds in the world. That means that students who do pass well in this exam will deserve respect.
It also means that primary education and lower secondary education MUST deliver on numeracy. It is vital that all students master the basics of numeracy by the end of year 8 at the latest. All mathematics teachers are going to need year 9, particularly with the more able, to start the GCSE. In my view, unless schools give teachers more time in years 10 and 11 and there seems very little hope of that happening, results will fall in 2017.
Mum and dad will simply have to engage tutors. The one problem in being a tutor is that you always get pulled in to clean up the mess that a child is in. It is rare that you are called in to help a student achieve excellence and that is what we need to do.
What I am suggesting is that your child’s future success in education has to be planned for, it will not happen spontaneously and you have to take part in the planning and help them achieve their goals.
In the sessions we are planning for the Lawler Academy it is essential that parents take an active role and support their child. In the soft launch we had at Easter we have had students go from being failures to being head of their class. This shows how powerful parental support if for your child.
For More on our online tutoring connect here or via www.lawleracademy.com
One of the hardest things to do as a teacher is help young people develop values. Today, as I write I have knowledge of lies and rudeness from a British University to a person applying for a job. I know the university has lied, they know it and the person concerned knows it as well.
The fact is we are forgetting how to care. If we have values underlying the work we do, then surely we need to consider care as one of the main values. By this I mean care for the environment and care for each other. If that is the underlying value then in the example above, the applicant would have been treated with respect and where that respect was not delivered, would have received an apology.
In the same way, if we value caring as a society then what does it mean? It means caring for the environment and each other. In our office we have a policy of not printing if we can avoid it. We keep everything electronic and back up. This saves paper (caring about expense), it saves trees ( caring about the environment) and it saves people carrying heavy files ( ok caring about each other may be stretching the point here but I think you can see where I am coming from). One underlying value informs our actions. It means we organise our daily practice to implement this value and that is why it is important. I urge you to put care at the centre of everything you do because, as a society we are forgetting how to care.
PUBLIC WARNING PUBLIC WARNING PUBLIC WARNING PUBLIC WARNING
Yes I am going to mention a four letter word and that is WORK.
Sorry to state the obvious but as we head into exam season all students need to be working. Now is the time to ditch the soaps and the booze and any illegal substances and to detox. You are going into a performance and you need to prepare yourself and that means work.
The first thing is to make an exam timetable and to plan revision periods. Remember now is time to ditch the tv.
Set up your revision periods for fifteen minutes and take 5 minute breaks after each session. DO NOT save the rest periods up till the end, it doesn’t work that way.
Focus: it is easy to kid yourself that you have worked when in reality you have done very little. You need to set targets for your study periods and stick to them.
If you have not come across mindmapping then check out The Mindmap Book by Tony Buzan. This is a brilliant way to study. One word of warning, if you are studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) you MUST try some practice questions as well as drawing out the mindmaps.
Try setting a timer on your phone or digital application. There are plenty of free apps for timers. This is a way of keeping you focused on your work. Don’t expect me to say ‘good luck’ exam prep is not about luck is about preparation and now is the time to prepare and that means that four letter word WORK!
We are incredibly busy in the office working on our latest project which is the launch of an online academy in three weeks time. The software is all in place and being tested and we are busy recording sessions. To start with, we are focusing on the new British GCSE in mathematics. This is simply because I am a mathematics teacher and there is a huge problem that many parents have yet to address. The new GCSE starting in the Autumn/Fall of this year is harder than the current GCSE. There is about 1/3 extra work to do and many schools simply do not have the extra time built into the curriculum. There is also the sad fact that in some schools the people teaching mathematics are not qualified to do it. There seems little doubt that in 2017 when the first cohort go through the new version of the GCSE, the results will fall. This is a toxic mix and we need to help. That is why we have come up with the idea of an online academy. We will be releasing details in the next two weeks but if you want more details do connect on this page and we will write to you privately. We DO NOT share details with anyone. This is a very exciting opportunity for us and we hope you can join us on our journey.
Traditionally if 16 year olds had a grade C in GCSE mathematics they have ‘crossed the wire’, they are ‘in the fold’. Is this still the case?
Well listening to teachers and journalists one would think so but there is a hidden change in English and Welsh Society that affects graduates.
To get into university, you need certain grades at GCSE including a grade C or above in mathematics, to go alongside your A’levels.
OK fine and dandy! Off you go to university, work hard for 3 years and get a good degree, 2.1 or 1st and then you apply for a graduate trainee scheme with a company. This is where it goes wrong. The reason is, many of our major companies have now increased their graduate trainee requirements to include a grade B in GCSE mathematics. We now have the ridiculous scenario in some university towns of final year students working for their finals in their degree and going along to night school to upgrade their GCSE in mathematics. There seems little doubt that this practice will grow, the wire has moved upwards, the desired grades are now, A*, A and B. When the new GCSE starts, the Welsh government will continue with the current A* to C grades but in England the government will move to a number scale. The top grade will be a grade 9 with an A*, according to press reports, about a grade 6. Please bear in mind that it is projected that only about 3% of candidates will get a grade 9. So presumably the desired grades will be 9 to 4 but we will wait to see what the top companies decide.
Easter 2015 is our launch of a new online academy for the British GCSE Mathematics curriculum. Why are we doing this? There is a new curriculum in place for Autumn/Fall 2015 and it is tougher than the current curriculum. I am the joint BBC Bitesize maths author and so I can teach mathematics online to students.Mathematics will change their thinking skills and improve their job chances and life chances so it is an investment well worth taking. We have bought a new online platform and will be providing recorded lessons in numeracy and live tutorials online to ensure students have mastered the mathematics and thoroughly understand what they are doing. Sadly there has to be a limit on the numbers of people we can help so if you are interested do get in touch and we will send you details. Please note this is NOT free, there will have to be a charge BUT it will be very reasonable. If you and your teenager work with us, we can say that using the Mega study approach it is virtually impossible not to learn. Leave a message below or sign up using the form on the left hand side and we will send you details.
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Are you preparing your children or grandchildren well enough for their future? Make no mistake we live in a global community. The power of the internet means your offspring are growing up in a different world to you. They are growing up as global citizens. Professor Eddie Obeng says that fifteen years ago at around midnight when you were asleep, the world changed and you didn’t notice.
What has this to do with mathematics? My point is simple. The world has changed and that means we have to change with it. It means that despite what we as children may have experienced at school, we need to make the provision for our children reflect the needs of this century not last century. That means we need to change our own attitude to mathematics. How many of us say to children ‘ well I could never do maths when I was your age’. Whilst we think we are being kind we are in fact misleading the children. A child in school today could still be in the workforce in 2070. we do not know what 2070 will be like BUT we do know that the people alive in 2070 will need to be problem solvers and problem solving lies at the heart of mathematics. That is why this is important. As a parent or grandparent do you care enough about your youngsters future or are you leaving everything to the school? The school has your child for five hours a day, you have your child for nineteen hours. It is not difficult to see who has the biggest opportunity to make an impact. Sign up for more free details on how to help your child’s education.
I was delighted to hear that the Welsh Government are proposing improving numeracy in their primary schools. As a proud Welshman myself and a teacher/numeracy specialist I have been harping on about numeracy and the potential impact of numeracy on the economy for 30 years. When I taught in Leicester we developed a numeracy policy and it worked. I developed a system where numeracy is integrated into the curriculum and becomes the responsibility of all teachers. It led to more students being able to do more mathematics and at GCSE level we entered 27 students and 10 achieved grade A, 4 a merit ( 1 above an A), 6 a distinction ( 2 above an A), the system works.
But the one thing a policy in schools cannot do is change attitudes of adults. Adults who say ‘I couldn’t do maths when I was your age’ to students are trying to be kind BUT in reality it means ‘ I managed to avoid it so you can too’. The reality is children can’t. We expect children to be able to spell. If they cannot spell they get extra help. For some reason we do not have the same expectation with using numbers. Adults who cannot read hide it, it is a social stigma, it causes embarrassment. Yet people wear their innumeracy with pride. It is time Wales led the rest of the U.K., it is time Wales regained her position as the number 1 home country for education and that is the responsibility of all of us.
At school SWOT was a dreadful insult. It meant you had somehow ‘sold out’ and it came second to ‘teacher’s pet’. But in business SWOT is an analysis.
It stands for :
You need to conduct a SWOT analysis every quarter ( every 3 months) to make sure you are on track in your personal development. Nobody is going to control your life or control your career except you and that is why this is important to your future. Make your SWOT analysis part of a written development plan. What are your strengths, list them. What can you do to make use of these strengths? Now the difficult bit, what are your weaknesses? What can you do to overcome your weaknesses? You MUST NOT just accept them and say there is nothing you can do. There is always action you can take to improve your life.
you need to look for opportunities to do so. Maybe you are weak at presentation skills. Go along to your local college, do they have an evening class you could attend? Does your employer have specialist training you could attend? The action you take will help to improve those areas of weakness in your life.
Threats happen to everyone. The biggest threat is to face redundancy. What do you do to avoid it? The best way in my view is to keep up to date. The classic redundancy of a person in their 40’s is that their knowledge is 20 years old. If you graduated 20 years ago and have been with the same company ever since, they have bought all of your knowledge. What else are you going to sell them? This is why keeping up to date is so important. You are in control or you let events control you. It is much better to be driving the car than let it get out of control.
To your success.