English and maths are vital skills needed for learners to progress onto higher level courses and/or employment. In order to develop learners’ English and maths skills it is important that the two subjects are embedded into every session. I have created a checklist to help colleges self-assess their current practice in regards to the embedding of English and maths and below have provided ideas on how to support staff and encourage all to embed the two subjects.
It is important that all teaching staff have at least their Level 2 qualification in English and maths so that they feel confident enough to embed the two subjects. Having this qualification will help tutors to be able to effectively feed back on any SPAG/maths errors on learners’ work.
In order to be consistent in your approach cross college in the embedding of English and maths, mandatory training should be made available so that all staff are aware of opportunities to promote the two subjects. Ideas and good practice can be shared across departments.
Promote English and maths! Display posters on grammar, spelling, punctuation and formulas in classrooms and on corridors. Share maths and English good news stories. Use maths and English starter activities. For example, I post a daily problem on our VLE for learners across college to view and answer. One of them was a tattoo that had been spelt incorrectly and learners had to spot the mistake.
Include on session plans and schemes of work how and where maths and English are embedded. When sharing objectives at the beginning of sessions, inform learners how they will improve/practise their maths and English. As the session progresses, point out to learners where they have used their maths and English.
When providing feedback, include comments on how learners can improve their maths/English. For example, if a learner spells a word incorrectly, highlight the word and ask the learner to check the spelling in a dictionary. If a learner does not include a unit in their answer of a calculation, (for example £, p, mm, etc.), ask the learner to identify and include this.
Set SMART targets to address English and maths and support your learners to develop these skills. Here are some examples of SMART targets related to English and maths:
- To answer a question at the end of every session to show that I have been listening.
- To complete one division sum every session to help me remember my method.
- To make at least one/two/three contributions in class discussions every session to help me develop my communication skills.
- To work with someone else every session to help me improve my teamwork skills.
- To learn the spellings in my ‘red book’ and be tested on them every session.
- To use at least three adjectives every session to add detail to my writing/opinions/views/
- To use at least one/two/three language features every session when writing about or discussing a specific topic.
- To answer a question on percentages/fractions/mean/median/mode every session to help me develop my confidence in… (For example, finding a percentage of an amount).
Encourage learners to keep a spellings/definition book. This can be used in any subject and is a great way to embed English and/ or maths. When a new term, definition or formula is introduced, ask learners to record it in their spellings/definitions book. If learners have a ‘notes’ section on their phones, encourage BOD (bring your own device).
Encourage vocational tutors to work with Functional Skills and GCSE staff so that vocational staff are aware of learners’ areas for development/SMART targets in English and maths. Information shared can then inform vocational sessions.
Please feel free to comment on my blog post and share any ideas that you may have on the subject of embedding English and maths! Please look out for future blog posts as I will be sharing more ideas/examples on how to embed English and maths.