Anne Milton, Apprenticeship and Skills Minister, says the government is looking at functional skills as an alternative to English and maths GCSEs.
In her speech at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Annual Conference, she says the government should play “an active role” in improving further education.
“To be clear, I don’t think that government always knows best, or can do this on its own. But just as an active role for government is central to our approach to industrial strategy, we need to adopt the same mindset when thinking about how we achieve the world-class FE provision that we need.”
Functional skills as an alternative qualification to GCSEs could be taught in schools to avoid creating a “brick wall” blocking young people’s ability to progress.
“If someone has failed to learn English and maths by the age of 16, you have got to be doing something very different to find a way to teach them to do English and maths after that, because you failed to do it for 11 years, despite your best efforts…”
The measures to protect colleges offering English and maths GCSE resits has continued until further notice, which has led to a significant increase in the number of people sitting the qualification in colleges. Not only has this created logistical challenges for the sector, but it has also meant young people are often forced to take resits multiple times before finally getting the required grade.
Speaking at the AoC Conference, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “There has to be an assurance that every young person is competent in English and maths. So we have to ensure the teaching is good. There has to be a level met and it has to be encouraged. Maths and English are very, very important.”