'Tolerance' for GCSE English and maths resits funding to be extended

16th November 2016 at 14:55
Transitional protection for colleges will continue for 2017-18, the Education Funding Agency has announced

Transitional measures to give colleges some funding leeway over GCSE English and maths resits are to be extended for another year, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has announced.

Peter Mucklow, the EFA's director of young people, announced at the Association of Colleges' annual conference in Birmingham today that the 5 per cent tolerance factor will be extended for an extra year and applied to 2017-18 funding allocations.

This means that colleges will not be penalised unless more than 5 per cent of their students without A*-C GCSE in English or maths fail to enrol on an approved qualification in these subjects. The tolerance had been scheduled to come to an end after the 2016-17 year, with many in the sector concerned that it would be removed or reduced for 2017-18.

Mr Mucklow told delegates that, under the EFA's original plans, the tolerance "would have been removed". He continued: “We said that we would keep that under review, and ministers have decided to extend for 2017-18 that threshold of tolerance that applies in exactly the same way for that year."

Nationally, the level of compliance with the condition of funding for English and maths remained at 97 per cent in 2015-16, Mr Mucklow said. "It is recognising the huge efforts that colleges and other institutions have gone to to ensure students have that opportunity that ministers decided to extend that tolerance into the 2017-18 year," he added.

The 2015-16 year was the first in which it became a condition of colleges' funding that students who had previously achieved a D grade in English or maths should retake the qualification. As a result, the overall number of entries among students aged 17 and over increased by around a third. In total, 128,201 older learners took GCSE English, while 173,628 sat maths.

Last week, TES revealed that new AoC analysis showed that college students from the most deprived parts of the country make the least progress in GCSE resits for English and maths. 

Responding to the announcement, the AoC's assistant chief executive Julian Gravatt said colleges would be "pleased" by the news. "The decision recognises the progress that colleges have made in enrolling young people on English and maths courses," he added.

“It is important that all young people are able to achieve better numeracy and literacy skills. We now also need to introduce a new pathway for young people who do not achieve a GCSE in English and maths.”

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