“When am I ever going to need this when I leave school?”
I bet you remember saying that, whether it was about using a protractor, learning algebra or verb tenses. I’m sure you know now that you actually use your maths and English skills every day, but have you ever thought how you can explain that to kids today?
In the last decade, the government has taken several significant steps to improve the standard of maths and English in England, including a reform of maths and English GCSEs to make them much more challenging. This arose out of increasing concern in the education sector that not enough children were attaining the expected standard in either subject.
In fact, in 2010, nearly 1 in 5 children left primary school unable to read at the expected standard. What’s more, a 2013 survey revealed that unemployed adults were twice as likely to have a poor level of literacy as those who were in full-time employment.
To re-emphasise the importance of maths and English, all 16-year olds who don’t get at least a 4 (an old grade C) in GCSE maths and English are required to continue their study of these subjects alongside their sixth-form studies. Potentially, they have to keep sitting their GCSEs until the age of 19.
So why does the government and the education sector put so much emphasis on maths and English and why are they so important? The answer is because your child will need their maths and English skills at every stage of their career and throughout their lives:
1. During their time at school. Even as your child is still learning maths and English at school, they’re using the skills they’ve already acquired, whether that’s working out if they have enough lunch money left to buy a pudding, or when they want a part in the school play but have to learn the lines.
More importantly, every time they use the skills they’ve acquired, it helps build their confidence, improve their social skills, their understanding of the world and their ability to navigate it successfully.
If you’re not at the required standard in maths and English, it has a knock-on effect on nearly all the other subjects. So even if you think your child is likely to be more practical, they’ll still need their maths for Design and Technology, IT, Science and Food Tech, and their English for Music, Drama and even Art.
Sadly, the difference in reading ability between those pupils who never read for enjoyment, and those who read for even half an hour a day, is equivalent to a whole year of schooling by age 15. It’s not hard to imagine what a difference that could make to the GCSE years.
2. When they choose what to do next. Many further education courses require pupils to have both maths and English to at least GCSE. The majority of university courses look for at least 4s or Cs in GCSE maths and English as this shows a good understanding of the subjects. Even apprenticeships often require a candidate to have GCSEs in either one or both. So, while weak maths or English might seem unimportant in Year 7 and 8, it could really limit your child’s choices and have a significant impact on their long-term future.
3. When they apply for a job. Most employers won’t consider an applicant unless they have at least GCSE grade 4/C in each subject. Employers also expect their workers to be able to use their maths and English in a practical way, not just to be able to pass a test.
4. As their career progresses. Research has shown that those pupils with an A level in maths can earn up to 10% or more than those without (but with a similar education otherwise).
Good qualifications in maths and English also open the door to different opportunities and for children who go on to run their own business, then maths and English are perhaps the two most important skills they’ll need. Without a good understanding of maths, they won’t be able to calculate the cost of products or services, how much to spend and earn to make a profit, how to do their accounts and their tax returns. In short, they won’t have a business, and that includes Bloggers, Vloggers, YouTubers and social media stars who all still need an understanding of the basics!
Strong communication skills are the other pillar of success, whether that’s the written or spoken word. Business communications will need to be clear, accurate, and at times compelling, persuasive and creative. A poorly worded or badly punctuated campaign can cause immeasurable damage. Your child may also need to comprehend or even write complex legal documents, agreements, reports, instructions, letters and lots more.
From both maths and English, your child will need and develop reasoning and critical thinking skills, in order to come up with and implement campaigns and strategies, to analyse and audit results and performance. In short, they may want to be the latest YouTuber or footballer, but they’ll still need to be able to read and write well, communicate effectively and do the maths!
5. In everyday life. If you reflect on daily life, you quickly realise that we all use maths almost every day. In fact, those daily almost unconscious mental calculations perform an important role, making life more efficient and easier to understand. Working out what your share of the bill is, how much change you’re owed, how much you need to save each month, understanding your mortgage payments, completing your tax returns, the list goes on. We use English just as much: when we speak, write, read, fill in forms or even when we just listen.
If you are thinking, “It’s ok, there’s an app for that” – bear in mind that we can all make mistakes entering the data into them! How will you spot if your share of the bill is wrong, if you don’t have reasonable maths skills? What about when your phone auto-corrects a word and actually changes its meaning entirely?
6. For their general wellbeing. Studies show that higher levels of literacy and numeracy are linked to better health and a longer lifespan. It makes sense. Just imagine if you or your child couldn’t sit down and read a favourite book, magazine or blog. Imagine how it would feel if you were asked to read or write something and you couldn’t do it properly. Imagine how stressful it would be if you couldn’t do simple calculations or work out whether you had enough of something. Life would quickly become cumbersome, difficult and stressful.
There may be times when your child is struggling with maths and English and asking you whether they’ll ever really need “this stuff” in the real word. And the answer to that is yes, they will. Why not find out more about MagiKats maths and English tuition and how we can help your child meet and surpass the expected standards.