Locating mathematics within post-16 vocational education in England
Dalby, Diane and Noyes, Andrew (2015) Locating mathematics within post-16 vocational education in England. Journal of Vocational Education and Training . pp. 1-17. ISSN 1747-5090
The political importance of mathematics in post-16 education is clear. Far less clear is how mathematics does and should relate to vocational education. Successive mathematics curricula (e.g. core skills, key skills) have been developed in England with vocational learners in mind. Meanwhile, general mathematics qualifications remain largely disconnected from vocational learning. Following a brief historical survey of mathematics within vocational education, the paper presents findings from a nested case study of student groups in three large Further Education colleges in England. The primary unit of analysis herein is student groups learning Functional Mathematics in two vocational areas: construction and hairdressing. We show how approaches to organising teaching, developing connected curricula and classroom pedagogy tend to isolate or integrate mathematics from/with the vocational experience. Integrated approaches are shown to impact positively on student engagement and attitudes to learning mathematics. The paper concludes by discussing the potential impact of academic qualifications displacing vocationally relevant mathematics.
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