Friday, 25th February 2005

Response to the White Paper on the Tomlinson Report

On Wednesday the 23rd of February the Government published the _White Paper_ repsonse to the *Tomlinson Report* in to changes in 14-19 education.

Details of the response can be found here

From the perspective of a Maths teacher this report is quite disappointing in many (but not all) respects, which we shall look at now:

* strengthen the emphasis on English and maths, in particular by expecting schools to focus systematically on those who arrive from primary school without having reached the expected standard in the Key Stage 2 literacy and numeracy tests, continue to publish national test results and introduce a new on-line test of ICT skills

This means that students who for whatever reason are not achieving in Mathematics and English, rather than being given a chance to succeed (and hence gain confidence)in other areas, will be made to spend more time studying subjects that are not achieving well in…

* we have already reduced the amount of prescription in the Key Stage 4 curriculum, providing more scope for schools to support catch-up in English and maths.

I have similar issues with this statement…

* we are extending the Key Stage 3 Strategy to improve classroom practice, so that it provides support across secondary schools

This one was fairly expected if a little frustrating. Those of you who know me will know that I have serious issues with the KS3 Strategy. Not in its content which in some places is quite good, but more importantly in how it has been administered. What was only ever intended to be advisory, was made virtually compulsory! And the prescriptive nature of the Strategy (which is can be useful for non-specialist maths teachers, or under-confident teachers) has resulted in consistent but uninspiring teaching. The interesting experimental teaching techniques and schemes which were developed during the 80’s and 90’s, which involved students developing concepts themselves through open-ended tasks, have now nearly all gone by the wayside in favour of a much more prescriptive _Three Part-Lessons_ (which again was only ever meant to be a suggestion!! – even if it was “highly recommended” – and you are also reminded that you should “Use your professional judgement to determine the activities, timing and organisation of the beginning, middle and end of the lesson to suit its objectives.”) So now not only are going to have a this prescription thrust upon us at KS3 but now that joy will be extended to KS4… And how will the Government get people on board with the KS4 strategy? The same way they did with KS3, tell schools they can have more money if they do! And no more if they don’t…

* we will ensure that no-one can get a C or better in English and maths without mastering the functional elements. Where a teenager achieves the functional element only, we will recognise that separately.

So this means that potentially good Mathematicians who for whatever reason fail to gain mastery of the _functional elements_ of Mathematics will no longer be able to obtain a grade C, and therefore will not be able to study the subject at a higher level – Which is where the functional elements loose their significance!!

The second important question that needs to be asked is what is _functional mathematics_? Who is going to define what areas of mathematics are functional, and which are not? Is functional mathematics just Mental arithmetic? Is it written methods? Does it include using a calculator? If not why not? When you survey people who perform mathematical tasks in the workplace (which is what this is supposed to be preparing them for) they will nearly always use a calculator. So surely we should be teaching students to use them more effectively not focusing on teaching them how they might try and and calculate the sum in their heads…

I will continue to include further issues when I have more time!

posted by Andy at 11:34 pm  

Wednesday, 23rd February 2005

Snow…

We went for a walk in the snow this evening! I love the snow, it makes everything look so clean and pretty! It’s amazing how a thin covering of snow makes the whole world look a little better… Also that great ‘Crunch!’ sound underfoot is worth freezing for!

Shame it only seems to snow in February these days… What ever happened to a _White Christmas_…

posted by Andy at 12:12 am  

Monday, 21st February 2005

Latex is Back!

Huge thanks are extended to Sam who is now hosting my cgi Latex script!! Which means that all the goodness of Latex is once again working on my Blog!
Hopefully at some stage my host PlusNet will sort out this little niggle! (Apart from this problem I can’t really fault them!)

[tex]x^2 + y^2 = r^2[/tex] – Just because I can!!
There are a few other odds and ends I want to implement on the site and I will continue to leave updates as these come along!

posted by Andy at 10:46 pm  

Sunday, 20th February 2005

Latex Issues…

I am having issues with getting the Latex script and some other scripts to play nicely together…

So until I get that fixed the latex will just appear as the code…

Hope to get this fixed ASAP! If anyone knows anything about Apache mod_rewrites and why this may be preventing me to running cgi scripts please let me know!!

Or as a temporary fix if you happen to have some cgi enables webspace going spare that I could host this one file on, let me know!

posted by Andy at 12:40 am  

Saturday, 19th February 2005

New Look

Welcome to the new look *Kemps’ Blog Site*! After some nice and friendly hacker decided to take advanatage of a small backdoor I had left in my webserver (to enable me to edit files remotely) and decided to delete a whole load of files of my server, I have had to rewrite a lot of the front end of this blog!

Overall I am quite pleased with its _new look_ and additional feautures!

With having to repair alot of the damage to the site I decided I may as complete the upgrade to *WordPress 1.5* which gives me a few more functions and a slightly improved interface!

If you expereince anyproblems with the new site or missing content let me know and I will do my best to put it back!

Hope you like it!

posted by Andy at 12:44 am  
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