The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has relaxed its 100 per cent compliance rule for GCSE English and maths resits at colleges.
According to new guidelines, only colleges where more than 5 per cent of the 16- to 19 year-old students who failed to achieve A*-C in GCSE maths or English were not enrolled on a course to study those subjects in 2014-15 will have their funding reduced.
“In light of in-year data showing that 97 per cent of 16- to 19-year-olds without GCSE A*-C English and/or maths attending an FE institution continued their study of these subjects, ministers have decided not to apply the English and maths funding condition in full,” the guidance says.
The last academic year was the first where colleges wanting to avoid a funding cut for the next year had to ensure that all students moving into FE from school without an A*-C grade in GCSE maths or English were studying towards that qualification or an approved equivalent.
Instead of expecting 100 per cent compliance for 2014-15, the EFA will now be applying a 5 per cent tolerance, which means that funding reductions will apply onlyto colleges where fewer than 95 per cent of students are not fulfilling this requirement.
David Corke, director of education and skills policy at the Association of Colleges, said the funding condition had been “a major challenge for colleges”. He explained that the AoC had worked closely with the government “to ensure it recognises the need for there to be exceptions to the rule, especially as colleges needed to recruit additional specialist maths teachers”.
“Colleges, schools and the government need to work together to ensure that all students have achieved at least a C grade in GCSE English and maths by the time they are 18 years old,” he said, adding: “This longer-term objective will only be met when more 16-year-olds reach a suitable standard in English and maths and when teacher recruitment shortages are resolved.”