Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Post-16 - English and Maths Drive Could Be Lost in Translation: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Post-16 - English and Maths Drive Could Be Lost in Translation: News

Article excerpt

Colleges warn of underfunding and a lack of experienced staff.

Colleges and schools in England will struggle to introduce government reforms designed to ensure that more students leave with qualifications in mathematics and English, their leaders have warned.

The policy has been badly planned and underfunded, they claimed, as it emerged that a former senior adviser to education secretary Michael Gove fears that it could lead to students studying for "lots of crappy" qualifications.

From this term, any student in post-16 full-time education without at least a C in English or mathematics at GCSE must continue to study the subjects until they make the grade.

But Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "This is being done in the context of cutbacks, no new money and no national plan for an enormous initiative. Literacy and numeracy are really important, but where is the plan to make sure that all young people get access to this?"

Joy Mercer, director of education policy at the Association of Colleges (AoC), said that further education colleges will need 2,100 extra staff to teach the courses. The funding system has been changed so that colleges will be financially penalised if students without the requisite grades do not continue to study English and mathematics.

But Ms Mercer said colleges are not being given the extra funding needed to recruit teachers with the necessary experience. "Colleges are desperately worried about how many staff they have got and about how they are going to get (the new courses) into the timetable," she said.

The government has said that students should "ideally" be studying for GCSEs in the subjects, but they may also take other qualifications as a "stepping stone" towards that goal.

This week Sam Freedman, a former special adviser to Mr Gove, responded to a claim on Twitter that, in practice, the English courses studied "could be basic". …

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