Justine Greening: Don't let young people 'hit a brick wall' in English and maths

17th November 2016 at 12:19
The education secretary, addressing the Association of Colleges' annual conference, also says that FE learners studying English and maths must get the same breadth of assessment as in schools

Colleges must make sure that young people don’t hit “a brick wall” in trying to pursue qualifications for English and maths, the education secretary has said.

Speaking at the Association of Colleges' (AoC) annual conference in Birmingham this morning, she stressed that it was crucial to strike the right balance between allowing young people to reach their potential in English and maths, and ensuring they “don’t hit a brick wall they are never going to get over”. The statement came after she was asked about the rising numbers of English and maths GCSE resits in colleges.

'Centres of excellence'

“I really want to see further education providers steadily [become] centres of excellence on how we get that cohort of young people to really get the English and maths qualifications they need... so they can be successful,” she said. Ms Greening added that along with GCSEs, functional skills qualifications had a role to play. The Education and Training Foundation is currently undertaking a programme of reforming functional skills.

She also stressed that it is crucial to bring the same breadth of assessment to those young people pursuing English and maths qualifications in FE colleges as is applied in schools, looking not only at attainment, but also at progress. “We need to understand what it is going to take to enable them to make progress,” she said.

Ms Greening's speech came after the AoC conference heard yesterday that transitional protection to colleges give some funding leeway over GCSE English and maths resits is to be extended for another year.

Also speaking at the conference today, apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon said it was important to create a "credible, high-quality option for students for whom GCSEs are not appropriate or achievable".

He continued: "This is why we are reforming functional skills to make sure that they are genuinely relevant to employers, and consequently have credibility and prestige in the jobs market."

Mr Halfon also told the conference there was a need for a "national conversation about the importance of further education, with businesses, unions, community leaders and authorities at all levels, from Westminster to local councils."

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