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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Cross-curricular embedding of maths and English: the journey of an FE college and its ‘me strategy’

Marulanda-Carter, Laura (2019) Cross-curricular embedding of maths and English: the journey of an FE college and its ‘me strategy’. Masters thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)


More young people are not achieving good qualifications in Maths and English, which is ultimately “socially damaging and economically unsustainable” (Coughlan 2013). In the UK, students continue to underachieve resulting in a higher number of retake exams, with the least progress made within FE colleges (Belgutay 2017). The growing pressure on teaching practitioners to embed literacy and numeracy within vocational areas (Casey et al. 2006) and to contextualise learning (Higton et al. 2017) have led to a profession using a variety of strategies with little reflective review and sharing of good practice. Utilising a single FE college case study, the purpose of this research was to investigate the role of cross-curricular embedding of Maths and English to support student achievement. A contemporary example of the cross-curricular approach for embedding can be found in the ME strategy used by the case study college and examined in this thesis. This strategy is characterised by the targeted focus on tools and/or changes in the planning, delivery and review of functional skills in main study programmes. The decision to pair both case studies and action research methods ensured a research framework for presenting results towards actionable solutions relevant to both college-specific policy and provisions, and wider professional applications and improvements. Findings showed that in the year of its use students studying GCSE Maths and English were consistent or exceeded achievement targets, whilst those studying Level 1 functional skills performed below expectations. There is a divergence in data however as student attendance was significantly lower than expected for GCSE delivery whereas functional skills was in line or above target. Overall staff felt using the ME strategy had improved their teaching compared to previous years, were more like to use embedding in vocational delivery. Although in some instances this felt ‘forced’ and dual tutors often felt unsupported with little training. Further discussion on the impact of these results on stakeholders, i.e. national government, SMT and teaching practitioners, and the role each of them play in defending a similar approach and what is required to secure improvements in the wider sector are discussed. The key recommendations prescribed included an Ofsted framework that rewards change, more opportunities for SMT to innovate and to form a community of practice for practitioners to participate in. Future research is required to further conceptualise the term embedding, and longitudinal research that can validate conceptual models presented within this thesis.

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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 13405

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Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2021 08:26
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2021 08:30


Author: Laura Marulanda-Carter

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