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Maths & English Study Becomes Mandatory for Students Without a ‘C’ in GCSEs

The government has today revealed details of its (previously announced) plans to make students who fail to attain a ‘C’ grade or above at GCSE continue to study English and maths.

Those lacking the necessary grades will either have to re-sit the examinations or can take an alternative qualification, such as Functional Skills. The change comes into effect today alongside the decision to raise the participation age, ensuring that all young people must remain in some form of education or training until their 17th birthday (or 18th from 2015).

The move, which is estimated to impact around 250,000 students, is designed to help realise the Government’s ambition of raising standards in core maths & English skills, which follows on from Professor Alison Wolf’s review on improving vocational education (2011). She concluded that too many young people who were entering the workplace lacked basic skills and that this was seriously jeopardising their future employment prospects.

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Wolf described maths & English as “just utterly critical” and said that “recognising [their] central place… in society is long overdue”. Skills Minister Matthew Hancock stated that those who fail to leave school with a good GCSE grade suffer “a huge impairment to their future life” and that continuing a student’s learning experience beyond GCSE would help to address this.

Whilst the desired outcome of this scheme is for more students to attain a ‘C’ grade at GCSE, the choice on whether to retake the exam will remain with the student themselves and for many, a less abstract and more work-based qualification such as Functional Skills might prove more desirable.

Today’s announcement comes as many young people start returning to school or college after a summer holidays which saw the number of top grades achieved at GCSE fall for the second year in a row. There was also a drop in the overall pass rate for the first time in the exam’s 25 year history.


Sep 02, 2013 09:58 AM