Education, education, education

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Back in June 2015 I wrote a blog post titled Dumbing Down Education? where I showed some of the questions asked of 16 year olds sitting their GCSE Maths papers.

Well, I decided to take another look at exam questions following the furore over SATS (or National Curriculum tests) for 11 year olds.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3675842/Half-11-year-olds-fail-new-chaotic-Sats.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/686824/SATS-test-results-primary-school-year-6-Nicky-Morgan-education

This was the first year that the curriculum has been in operation and therefore the tests have been changed to reflect new, higher expectations of both the teachers and the pupils.

Following the results of the tests, official data shows 47 per cent of pupils did not make the grade in reading, writing and mathematics. Some headteachers had called for the test results not to be published as the results were lower than expected.

So, what were the tests? Were they really that difficult that nearly half of the 11 year olds didn’t pass?

As a matter of course, having two children, one 9 year old and the other 6 years, we download past SATS papers and give these to our kids to try out. Obviously the 6 year old is a long way off being able to do much of what is expected of a child 5 years his senior but his older brother, age 9, is a more relevant example of what might be expected (even though he is still 2 years short of sitting the SATS tests).

To give you an example of what is expected of an 11 year old, here’s the first five questions from the maths tests for 2016.

ncmaths1

ncmaths2

ncmaths3

ncmaths4

ncmaths5

Now, adding 100 to 987 or dividing 326 by 1 doesn’t seem very taxing. And I can confirm it’s not very taxing for a 9 year old either, never mind a child two years older.

Yes, obviously the questions do get slightly harder as you go through the paper but there’s only 35 questions in this maths paper and just answering those first five correctly is a reasonable chunk of the test.

So, what to make of the fuss kicked up by some teachers and headteachers? Changing the curriculum is always going to throw up a few problems, the least of which is when people compare the latest results with the previous year. Last year around 80% of the children passed the test, this year only 53% did.

But is the change a good thing? On balance I would say yes, it is. One of the more noticeable changes to the curriculum in maths in the past year was that teachers are now allowed to teach the children the times-table. By this I mean teach them by repeating the tables over and over until they become second nature to the child – the way most of us learnt them in the past. Almost unbelievably, teaching tables by rote (by repetition) was not allowed in schools in recent years and, if schools did teach that way, they would get marked down by OFSTED.

So, it seems some common sense has prevailed.

Now all the teachers need to do is ensure that the kids they teach can add 100 to 987 or divide 326 by 1. But perhaps that’s easier said than done when reading, writing and arithmetic have to be squeezed in at Primary School alongside guitar lessons, golf lessons, dance, drum lessons, tennis, trips to supermarkets (I kid you not!) and everything else.

Perhaps, and it’s just a thought, schools should concentrate on the important things (to most people this would be reading, writing and arithmetic) and leave the golf, tennis etc to after-school clubs. But, hey, what do I know? I’m just a parent!

 

Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)

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More old mapping – Glasgow 1945

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From our library of old maps, here are some extracts from the 1945 Bartholomew’s Pocket Plan of Glasgow.

At PCGraphics we used these maps as the basis to create royalty free maps for clients in the UK by adding new, up to date information gleaned from street surveys and aerial photography.

This methodology has today largely been superseded by the widespread availability of street level photography, such as Google Street View, meaning that we don’t need to visit every town, city and area in the UK which we map. This saves time and, more importantly, money for the client.

Click on any of the thumbnails to view a larger image.

 

You can find out more about how we create our maps at PCGraphics by following this link to our website.

There are also other pages of old maps here on this blog:

Birmingham – as it was 60 years ago
More old maps
London 1939
Ward-Lock Red Guide Books – Edinburgh
Ward-Lock Red Guide Books – Glasgow

If you pop over to our Pinterest boards, along with loads of samples of up to date maps produced by PCGraphics, there’s also a whole board dedicated to old mapping.

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We’re not a Limited Company anymore…

Well, here’s some news.

On 15 August 2017 we closed our Limited Company called PCGraphics (UK) Limited.

But, that’s only half the story. Read on…

Admin, admin, admin. Yes, a lot of it is necessary but, especially with a small business, you can easily get swamped by it. The last straw was probably being forced to go through the motions of setting up pensions (we’re a one man, one woman team who don’t employ anybody else – we use subcontractors when necessary) when patently neither of us wanted them. And yet the government insists you do it.

Then there’s the filing of accounts and Annual Returns every year, VAT every quarter, plus other admin and associated costs of simply running a Limited Company. And, get it wrong or file your returns late and you get fined by HMRC.

Anyway, enough to say that for the size of our business we were getting bogged down by the administration associated with it.

So, we closed the Limited Company. ‘Dissolved via voluntary strike-off’ it’s called, incase you’re wondering.

But, we’re still in business. Still drawing maps. Life continues.

Now we’re trading simply as PCGraphics. We shortened the name and our bank account has changed, but that’s about it. Oh, and we don’t have to file returns to Company House or pay accountants (although, having said that, our last accountant, Nicola Jones at My Accountant Online  was very good. We recommend her.) And, as there’s two us us, we can spread the income and keep our turnover below the threshold where you have to charge VAT. Again, much simpler.

Since August, we’ve been operating as Sole Traders or self employed as most people call it.

So, yes, the Limited Company is gone but we’re still here.

And that’s the news flash over. Have a great day!

 

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