Students will take maths and English until they bank a C

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Students who do not achieve a grade C or better in GCSE English and maths will continue to study the subjects until they do. The move is part of government reforms to post-16 education unveiled as SecEd went to press this week.

Students who do not achieve a grade C or better in GCSE English and maths will continue to study the subjects until they do. The move is part of government reforms to post-16 education unveiled as SecEd went to press this week.

The idea was one of the key proposals to come out of Professor Alison Wolf’s wide-ranging review of vocational education earlier this year.

The Department for Education (DfE) laid the details before the House of Commons in a written ministerial statement on Monday (July 2). 

It confirmed that the change will come into effect from September 2013. The DfE said that the one-fifth of young people who get a “near miss” – a D grade – each year in both English and maths GCSEs will be given extra help to retake the examinations “at the first opportunity”.

A DfE statement added: “Others will be given more intensive help over a longer period – and will possibly take other qualifications as stepping stones to the GCSE.”

Students who still struggle may take other maths and English qualifications and the DfE has said that the remainder “will continue studying the subjects even if they do not gain qualifications”.

To pave the way for the reform, the ministerial statement confirmed that institutions will be funded per-student, rather than per-qualification.

Currently, 42,000 young people reach the age of 19 having failed to get a C at English GCSE and without having had further lessons since. The figure for maths is 61,000.

Elsewhere, the DfE has said that new programmes of study will be introduced which will make work experience a “priority” for post-16 courses.

The DfE statement also reasserted its pledge that students who do not take A levels will have the opportunity to take “a substantial vocational qualification” that is recognised by employers or universities. 

It comes after Prof Wolf in her review said that around 350,000 16 to 19-year-olds in a typical cohort of 1.6 million were on courses which did not benefit them.

Prof Wolf said: “The changes recognise that maths and English are the most important vocational as well as the most important academic skills of all. These are the subjects that are critical to young people’s success in life. At the moment young people who do poorly at GCSE in these subjects generally just drop them. They are the very students who most need to continue them, and to leave education with English and maths at a reasonable and recognised level. 

“Employers also value high-quality work experience undertaken by students. But the current system makes it far too difficult for many institutions to build this vital aspect into their programmes.”


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