Gloucester College is a large Further Education College with four campuses located in the Cotswolds. This case study is based on the experiences of staff and students at the Gloucester campus. In addition to A Levels and GCSEs, the College offers a range of vocational qualifications, basic skills courses and apprenticeships. It is particularly well-known for its outstanding vocational facilities, business and media studies, early years, motor vehicle maintenance and sport. Of the five thousand or so students who attend the College, approximately 700 are eligible to study Core Maths.
When the course was first run in September 2014, it was made compulsory for ‘Built Environment’ students. The strategy has however changed this year. Largely this is because staff believe that students who sign-up to Core Maths out of
Staff changes meant that there were few opportunities to promote the course and recruit students over the summer. So to compensate a mailshot about Core Maths was sent out in October to all eligible students. It is also anticipated that recruitment for next year will begin at Easter. The College has lots of GCSE re-sit students who continue on to do A levels/AS levels, so they believe it is worth beginning promotional activities as early as possible.
The Core Maths teacher acknowledges the difficulties that promoting Core Maths to students will entail. Typically students at Gloucester College are very clear about what career path they are
They are looking for a good enough occupation that will earn them a decent living and let them lead a happy life.
Head of Maths
It seems also that for students at Gloucester College, as elsewhere, doing more mathematics after GCSE isn’t always an appealing prospect. They may have already achieved a Grade C at GCSE and are often unwilling to continue with mathematics in any form.
When it comes to maths, they are often very battered. They have so many barriers to learning that actually their C Grade, once they get it, is their Everest.
Head of Maths
In addition, students typically have their offer of a place at university when they enrol at the college.
In terms of recruitment, this means that one of the key priorities is to overcome any barriers that there might be to students seeing the benefit in studying Core Maths. The Head of Maths notes that the ‘attitude and ethos of students towards learning is important’. This not only means timetabling it in an accessible
The mathematics department
The Head of Maths has already had some discussions with the manager of the Health and Social Care course about offering Core Maths as an alternative to a GCSE Mathematics re-sit for their students who want to go into
Although all of the first
It’s not Core Maths that will be the problem, it’s whether or not students are still at the College…… At any point they can exit and sometimes they don’t know until the last minute.
Core Maths Teacher
Although one way to address this might be for the College to offer Core Maths to level 3 learners only, i.e. the group most likely to remain at the College as they are on a
That is the single thing that will help us out the most – if it’s done as a one-year course.
Head of Mathematics
The Core Maths teacher has developed context specific resources for students taking Core Maths. This was not done wholly in collaboration with colleagues from the Built Environment course as they were dealing with staffing issues. As Core Maths is no longer compulsory for built environment students and is being offered to students
Timetabling Core Maths has been a particular challenge for Gloucester College, where not only are there a high number of students on roll, but there are also an extensive range of courses on offer.
With students coming from a diverse range of departments, finding a time slot that is free for all of them is quite a challenge. Obviously this was easier the first year the course ran, as all the students were on the same programme. They receive two Core Maths lessons each week. This term Core Maths is scheduled for one session at
The tension for the maths team is whether to schedule the Core Maths slots and then see if they get the students or to recruit the students first and then timetable the classes. On balance, they acknowledge that the former is by far the easiest route to take. The only real remaining issue is to do with how many slots to timetable.