From education to employment

Teacher inspires students by making GCSE maths relevant to vocational courses

Valerie Sampson, further education teacher, City and Islington College (CANDI)

A further education teacher @CitynIslington has told how she has inspired her GCSE maths students by making the subject relevant to their vocational studies.

Valerie Sampson asked students at City and Islington College (CANDI) to give presentations on how mathematics can be applied to their chosen course and career.

She said: “There are many reasons why students end up retaking GCSE mathematics multiple times, and some are disappointed at having to study it again.

“I wanted to find out how my students could have a positive experience when relearning mathematics, and how I could make it relevant to their vocational studies.

“I suggested students should work on a project that would make links between the course they have chosen to do, and the mathematics they had to do, more explicit.”

The students worked on the project over a number of weeks before sharing their presentations with the class at the end of term.

Valerie said: “A group of forensic science students began discussing ideas that included blood splatter analysis, which uses trigonometry to find the angle of impact and point of origin.”

Other presentations looked at substituting numerical values for formulae when calculating body mass index, using equations to explain binary fission and how to use graphs to monitor child development.

One student said: “I did research on medication dosage and realised how complex it can be.

“When you use the right formula it makes it easier to know the right amount of medication to give to a patient.”

Another added: “This project linked back to our health science course. It helped me to see the relevance of what we are learning in mathematics more.”

Valerie, who joined CANDI last year having previously taught in a secondary school, plans to run the project again from the start of the next academic year.

She said: “The project has been mutually beneficial. The presentations have enabled me to reach out better to students and make maths lessons more vocationally relevant.

“My aim is to find more vocational examples to cover, which I hope will ultimately contribute to improving outcomes for all learners.”

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