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2017 should be the last year for compulsory English & Maths GCSE resits

Mark Dawe, AELP’s CEO and former boss of the OCR exams board

Training leaders are urging ministers to abandon their procrastination over ending the GCSE resits policy for English and maths and to instead join leading employers in getting behind ‘applied’ Functional Skills as a fully recognised alternative.

The government recently said that it would review the resits policy after next year’s exams, but the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) believes that it is strongly in the interests of a post-Brexit economy to waste no more time on further reviews. In AELP’s opinion, 2017 should be the final year for compulsory resits.

Many household name employers involved in drawing up the new apprenticeship standards for their sectors have already voted with their feet by choosing attainment of Functional Skills as a key element of a successfully completed apprenticeship and training providers say that the ‘applied’ option should be available across all education provision for 16 to 18 year olds.

Official figures show that 77.3% of students in England do not achieve a grade C in English or maths when they resit these subjects*.

Mark Dawe, AELP’s CEO and former boss of the OCR exams board, said:

‘English and maths are important for the whole population but the resits policy is leading to mass failure. The government should abandon it now and instead focus on Functional Skills being a good alternative.

‘Ministers should fund Functional Skills properly if they are genuine about the apprenticeship programme being a quality option for young people and adults.’

Presently a young apprentice’s learning of English and maths only attracts government funding of £471 whereas if the provision was delivered on a stand-alone basis, the funding would be £724.

Following the government’s response in July to the Smith review of post-16 maths, which called for more work on the maths to be learned as part of the proposed new T levels, AELP is calling for no divergence between the standards for maths required under apprenticeships and T levels. It says that this will just cause further unnecessary delay and likely confusion for employers and learners.

Government policy on resits

The government’s latest position on GCSE resits for English and maths was set out in a letter of 20 July 2017 from the schools minister Nick Gibb responding to the Smith review of post-16 mathematics.

*Source: BBC, 6 March 2017

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