James Watkins

James Watkins

Google Plus News writer

Maths and English to be made compulsory until age 18


3 July 2012

The government has announced plans that would see some children forced to study maths and English until the age of 18.

The measures, which are set to come into force from September of next year, would apply to students who fail to reach a C at GCSE in either of the subjects at the age of sixteen. The new rules will come as the leaving age for compulsory education is set to be raised to 17 in 2013, with a further rise to 18 in 2015.

Studying the subjects beyond will not necessarily require students to reach the coveted C grade for both subjects – some students, for whom a C grade is considered too high a hurdle to jump, will be given lessons that may not lead to a formal qualification.

The goal of the government’s plan is to address the issue of school leavers who are ill-equipped to enter the workplace, in terms of their literacy and numeracy skills. 40% of 16 year olds fail to achieve a C at GCSE English, while 60% fail to achieve this in maths.

The plan was set out in a statement by Education Secretary Michael Gove, which quoted a survey which found 2 in 5 employers to be unsatisfied with current standards of literacy among school leavers.

Professor Alison Wolf, who recently carried out a report on vocational education, welcomed the news. "The changes being made recognise that maths and English are the most important vocational as well as academic skills." Ms Wolf’s report had suggested the changes, finding that too many students ended up studying for vocational qualifications which the labour market was not interested in, while neglecting vital basic skills.

However, Stephen Twigg, Shadow Education Secretary, described the plan as “another blow for young people”.

"If the government is serious about raising the age at which young people leave education, they should implement the measures included in the legislation Labour introduced such as requiring employers to check a young person is enrolled on a course before employing them and arrange work to fit round education or training."

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