To me, the most important of all the purposes of a general FE college is to level the playing field. It can create routes into employment, continuing further and higher education for young people who, in many cases, have experienced education mostly as a series of closing doors up to that point.
This is my main concern with regard to the government’s compulsory GCSE resit policy. I don’t disagree with the idea what all young people require, and have the right to access training to achieve, a level of competency in maths and English that allows them to be successful in their chosen careers and in life.
I understand the sentiment behind that policy. I understand the desire to put that right on a formal footing. But today’s story on the proportion of young people with free school meal entitlement who attain a good pass in maths and English GCSE by 19 after failing to do so by 16 shows how the policy is placing at least some people in some parts of the country at serious risk of being put off education for good.
In an area where that attainment rate is less than 2 per cent, the remaining 98 per cent will have to resit and resit if they want any hope of any kind of college qualification. What hope is there that we won’t end up with a generation of disengaged young people? This should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Maybe we now really do have to reconsider GCSE resit policy.