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English and maths rule change welcomed by colleges

The change to how progress in English and maths is measured 'gives colleges more scope to use their judgement', says AoC

Progress rule change welcomed by AoC

The method for measuring progress in post-16 English and maths is being changed to stop students who take functional skills qualifications from being penalised.

Under the current system, a student who achieves a grade 2 in these subjects at GCSE and then goes on to achieve a level 1 functional skills qualification is deemed to have made “negative progress”. This also adversely affects colleges' published progress data.

However the Education and Skills Funding Agency has announced changes to the 16-18 English and maths progress measure, which will be applied to the 2020 performance tables.

Read more: DfE updates English and maths policy

Background: Do I have to resit GCSE English and maths?

Opinion: GCSE resits: 'Focus on success, not failure'

English and maths: making progress?

This includes increasing the “progress points” for attaining functional skills level 1 and level 2 qualifications “so providers can further support students to take the level 2 qualification which is most appropriate for them”.

The progress point system is also being switched from an eight-point scale to a nine-point scale, reflecting the 9-1 GCSS grading system. Under this, progress between entry-level qualifications will also be recognised for the first time. Under the current system, qualifications at entry levels 1, 2 and 3 all receive 0.4 progress points, which does not capture learners progress through the levels.

Under the new system, entry level 1 qualifications will receive 0.25 points, entry level 2 will receive 0.5 points and entry level 3 0.75 points.

The change follows an update to the condition of funding surrounding English and maths GCSE resits for 2019-20, published in February.

'Valuing functional skills'

Students with a grade 3 (or D) will continue to be required to retake the qualification until they get a grade 4. As at present, students with a grade 2 or below can either take a GCSE or functional skills level 2 qualification. But, once they have achieved this, “there is no requirement to undertake further maths or English qualifications to meet the condition of funding”, said a statement from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

The change to the progress measure was welcomed by the Association of Colleges. Senior policy manager Eddie Playfair said this was a “welcome move which goes some way towards valuing functional skills in the way we have argued for”.

“The progress measure change removes some of the disincentive for choosing the right qualification for students with a GCSE grade 2 in English or maths and gives colleges more scope to use their judgement,” he added.

The reformed functional skills qualifications are due to be introduced in September, with some exam boards having already published their specifications.

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