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what's step and step questions is a lot harder than functional skills?

I'm at college doing level 1 functional skills maths. I don't like maths at school and I got a 1 in maths and 1 in english.

I found step questions somewhere in the internet. what's step?
I didn't even understand what step questions is trying to tell me?

step doesn't have any maths questions relevant to life?
what is step for?
Original post by FSMaths0506
I'm at college doing level 1 functional skills maths. I don't like maths at school and I got a 1 in maths and 1 in english.

I found step questions somewhere in the internet. what's step?
I didn't even understand what step questions is trying to tell me?

step doesn't have any maths questions relevant to life?
what is step for?

In this context STEP is an acronym; it stands for Sixth Term Examination Paper. You can find out all about it here.
Reply 2
Original post by FSMaths0506
I'm at college doing level 1 functional skills maths. I don't like maths at school and I got a 1 in maths and 1 in english.

I found step questions somewhere in the internet. what's step?
I didn't even understand what step questions is trying to tell me?

step doesn't have any maths questions relevant to life?
what is step for?


STEP is Rishi Sunak's proposed course for 16-18 year olds to ensure they keep up their maths skills before leaving school. The government has announced that from 2025 you will not be able to vote in person at a polling station without either a STEP certificate or photographic evidence of having studied maths to 18.

Hope this helps.
Reply 3
Original post by davros
STEP is Rishi Sunak's proposed course for 16-18 year olds to ensure they keep up their maths skills before leaving school. The government has announced that from 2025 you will not be able to vote in person at a polling station without either a STEP certificate or photographic evidence of having studied maths to 18.

Hope this helps.

That STEP - Sunak's Test for the Enlightened Pleb. It was announced 20 days ago I think.
Reply 4
Original post by mqb2766
That STEP - Sunak's Test for the Enlightened Pleb. It was announced 20 days ago I think.


I'm quite looking forward to officials standing outside polling stations going "What's six times nine? Wrong - you can't come in to vote! What's the area of a triangle? Good - you can vote today."
Reply 5
Original post by davros
I'm quite looking forward to officials standing outside polling stations going "What's six times nine? Wrong - you can't come in to vote! What's the area of a triangle? Good - you can vote today."

Hope no one mentions Stephen Byers (ex MP)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/49415.stm
and the subsequent numeracy drive ...
Reply 6
Original post by mqb2766
Hope no one mentions Stephen Byers (ex MP)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/49415.stm
and the subsequent numeracy drive ...

See also Boris Johnson's incredulity on being told 0.04 = 4% :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/mar/03/boris-johnson-science-covid-maths-whatapps-advisers
Reply 7

Also reuters picture which originally appeared on the bbc article. It was updated a couple of hours later, but is in the twitter retweets
https://twitter.com/PaulbernalUK/status/1647849579272871938
180 = ...
Reply 8
Original post by mqb2766
Also reuters picture which originally appeared on the bbc article. It was updated a couple of hours later, but is in the twitter retweets
https://twitter.com/PaulbernalUK/status/1647849579272871938
180 = ...

But "the media" showing an "illustrative blackboard" filled with equations that don't make a lot of sense is fairly standard. (Plus in theory it's kids writing on the white board, and we know they're prone to not write things out properly - I could believe them knowing two angles are 90, 30 and writing "180 = 90+30" and then filling in 60 as the missing angle in the triangle but not the equation).

While we're digressing to the Sunak thing: I saw a discussion about "knowing your times tables" and was flabbergasted at the number of people who claimed a degree in maths/physics but said they didn't know their tables and didn't think you needed to. (In terms of responses, this was the *majority* response from people with such degrees).

I do agree with one typical comment ("it's just rote learning, not understanding"), but when you're looking to factorize x^2-16x+63 it's pretty damn useful to know that 7x9 = 63. It just seems to me there is so much of mathematics which becomes horribly painful if basic arithmetic takes significant mental effort.

And yes, for many topics, you reach a point where you hardly see a number above 3, but I'd say that's fairly far down most people's mathematical career, and I'm not sure how you *get* to that point without doing things like factorization, combinatorics, basic probability, linear equations, cartesian vector algebra, determinants with real numbers, and real arithmetic.

Being in the discussion felt like I was taking crazy pills, to be honest.
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 9
Original post by DFranklin
But "the media" showing an "illustrative blackboard" filled with equations that don't make a lot of sense is fairly standard. (Plus in theory it's kids writing on the white board, and we know they're prone to not write things out properly - I could believe them knowing two angles are 90, 30 and writing "180 = 90+30" and then filling in 60 as the missing angle in the triangle but not the equation).

While we're digressing to the Sunak thing: I saw a discussion about "knowing your times tables" and was flabbergasted at the number of people who claimed a degree in maths/physics but said they didn't know their tables and didn't think you needed to. (In terms of responses, this was the *majority* response from people with such degrees).

I do agree with one typical comment ("it's just rote learning, not understanding"), but when you're looking to factorize x^2-16x+63 it's pretty damn useful to know that 7x9 = 63. It just seems to me there is so much of mathematics which becomes horribly painful if basic arithmetic takes significant mental effort.

And yes, for many topics, you reach a point where you hardly see a number above 3, but I'd say that's fairly far down most people's mathematical career, and I'm not sure how you *get* to that point without doing things like factorization, combinatorics, basic probability, linear equations, cartesian vector algebra, determinants with real numbers, and real arithmetic.

Being in the discussion felt like I was taking crazy pills, to be honest.

It was more that the bbc would pick a photo like that, but agree with your comments.

For me, the general idea of being more numerate/problem solving/... initially sounds reasonable, but if kids havent really learned it up to 16, Im not sure forcing them to do extra stuff for a couple of years is going to be useful/popular. Marcus's story
https://twitter.com/MarcusduSautoy/status/1648372128381558784
to me illustrates how it could sound seductive to teach problem solving, ... but teaching kids about base 3 when theyve not maybe grasped gcse maths may not go down that well. A bit like Yes Minister, its now off to a committee and the report will be after the next election
Reply 10
Original post by mqb2766
It was more that the bbc would pick a photo like that, but agree with your comments.

For me, the general idea of being more numerate/problem solving/... initially sounds reasonable, but if kids havent really learned it up to 16, Im not sure forcing them to do extra stuff for a couple of years is going to be useful/popular. Marcus's story
https://twitter.com/MarcusduSautoy/status/1648372128381558784
to me illustrates how it could sound seductive to teach problem solving, ... but teaching kids about base 3 when theyve not maybe grasped gcse maths may not go down that well. A bit like Yes Minister, its now off to a committee and the report will be after the next election


For 16-18, I'd like to see a "maths for adult life" course that has things like "how to calculate income tax", "if inflation goes down from 10% to 5%, why doesn't the cost of a pint of milk go down", "if 1% of the country has Covid and an LFT test on someone without Covid has a 5% chance of being wrong, why will most positive LFTs be false positives?". " How does borrowing and nterest rates work?"

Even for people at the lower end of the ability range I think it's possible to make "concrete examples" (e.g. don't teach Bayes theorem, but start with a population of 100, mark 1 as having Covid, 5 false positives). You could also have prepared calculations/graphs so even if you can't actually calculate income tax on a salary of £60k, you can see it's actually a lot less than 40% of £60k.

[Still make them learn their tables though!]
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 11
Original post by DFranklin

While we're digressing to the Sunak thing: I saw a discussion about "knowing your times tables" and was flabbergasted at the number of people who claimed a degree in maths/physics but said they didn't know their tables and didn't think you needed to.

I do agree with one typical comment ("it's just rote learning, not understanding":wink:, but when you're looking to factorize x^2-16x+63 it's pretty damn useful to know that 7x9 = 63. It just seems to me there is so much of mathematics which becomes horribly painful if basic arithmetic takes significant mental effort.




As you say, you absolutely should know your times tables, because it's so convenient to know them - or rather, so inconvenient not to know them. Those people who argue for "understanding" rather than "rote learning" seem fundamentally to misunderstand how a lot of (mathematical) processes work - you're not going to get a generation of more numerate schoolkids by starting out saying "Today we're going to Understand Multiplication. This is a binary operation which we will define on the positive integers, and then we will extend to other numbers by enforcing the rules of commutativity, associativity and distribution over addition." No! Get the kids multiplying (and remembering) first, so they're comfortable with numbers, then the understanding can come later with time. And "understanding" comes at different rates for different people - my teenage brain could do things with calculus that I've only fully understood many years later, but if I'd waited for the "understanding" phase I'd still be waiting to pass A level Maths now!

Original post by mqb2766
For me, the general idea of being more numerate/problem solving/... initially sounds reasonable, but if kids havent really learned it up to 16, Im not sure forcing them to do extra stuff for a couple of years is going to be useful/popular. Marcus's story
https://twitter.com/MarcusduSautoy/status/1648372128381558784
to me illustrates how it could sound seductive to teach problem solving, ... but teaching kids about base 3 when theyve not maybe grasped gcse maths may not go down that well. A bit like Yes Minister, its now off to a committee and the report will be after the next election

The thing is, we did do base 3 (and base everything else) for my "modern maths" SMP O level back in the 1980s - we also covered groups, matrices and modular arithmetic by the age of 16! BUT - we did it because we were in the top set and it was fun, and crucially because we'd already mastered numeracy, and there was really no point doing more numeracy. Whereas those kids who wanted "life skills" could do CSE Mathematics and not have to worry about the higher concepts. Then, of course, the Academic Experts came along and said "look - the kids are doing 'Modern Maths', this must be why numeracy is so poor!" So they took all the modern maths concepts out of O level and GCSE, and guess what - the kids carried on being innumerate. And some of the ones who would have been like me and enjoyed the more diverse topics just got more and more disillusioned with maths because it was all "numeracy, numeracy, numeracy", so they were let down too.

The apparent "one size fits all" nature of GCSEs really is a gigantic con and is failing people at every level. You've got Foundation Tier maths which still contains more concepts / information than strictly belong in a "life skills" qualification; you've got Higher Tier which clearly isn't rigorous enough preparation for A level - just look at the number of people on TSR who fail at calculus questions because they can't add or multiply fractions!; and then you've got the tactical issue whereby it's so hard for lower-ability pupils to get the top grade (5) in Foundation, that they get submitted for the Higher Tier exam because if you can scrape a few extra marks in algebra or trig, you've got a better chance of getting the lowest grade (5) where the pass percentage is lower! Barmy!

Phew - rant over!
Reply 12
Original post by DFranklin
For 16-18, I'd like to see a "maths for adult life" course that has things like "how to calculate income tax", "if inflation goes down from 10% to 5%, why doesn't the cost of a pint of milk go down", "if 1% of the country has Covid and an LFT test on someone without Covid has a 5% chance of being wrong, why will most positive LFTs be false positives?". " How does borrowing and nterest rates work?"

Even for people at the lower end of the ability range I think it's possible to make "concrete examples" (e.g. don't teach Bayes theorem, but start with a population of 100, mark 1 as having Covid, 5 false positives). You could also have prepared calculations/graphs so even if you can't actually calculate income tax on a salary of £60k, you can see it's actually a lot less than 40% of £60k.

[Still make them learn their tables though!]

Sounds reasonable though its little more than gcse and 2 years of that sounds mind numbing, even if it is useful at times.
Reply 13
Original post by mqb2766
Sounds reasonable though its little more than gcse and 2 years of that sounds mind numbing, even if it is useful at times.


Sure - I was meaning it to be accessible "for people who didn't do too well at GCSE" and I wasn't meaning it would be a 2-year thing (just something done at some point during the 16-18 age range).

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