English and maths teaching and assessment must be reformed if there is to be improvement in further education, the head of an awarding body has claimed.
Kirstie Donnelly, UK managing director of City amp; Guilds, told TES that the qualifications offered in the subjects also needed to be reconsidered.
Ms Donnelly said that low attainment among older learners was not helped by the government's insistence that those who had not achieved at least a GCSE grade C in either subject should be forced to retake it. This year, the surge in English and maths retakes led to a drop in A*-C grades among students aged 17 and over, from 50.4 per cent to 47.2 per cent.
Research published by the Education and Training Foundation in September reveals that more than one in six maths teachers in the FE sector do not have a good GCSE pass in the subject.
"We can't ignore the fact that we really do have to raise standards," Ms Donnelly said. "Clearly there is an issue with maths and English, otherwise we wouldn't be seeing the results we are seeing. There's something we need to do to raise the standard of teaching. There's also work to do to raise the standard of what's inside the various qualifications. That doesn't mean the GCSE is the answer, because clearly it isn't."
In August, the OCR exam board, the Association of Colleges and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers called for a new qualification tailored to older students who had struggled in a school setting.
Last month, skills minister Nick Boles wrote to qualifications regulator Ofqual to ask whether existing functional skills qualifications could be redesigned to provide the skills needed in the workplace.