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Tristram Hunt: new maths qualification needed for learners who fail at GCSE

A new basic maths qualification should be drawn up for students who have failed to achieve a good GCSE pass in the subject, Tristram Hunt has claimed.

The shadow education secretary told the Association of Colleges (AoC) conference in Birmingham today that a level 2 core maths course - equivalent to a GCSE grade A*-C - would prevent students who have struggled with the subject having to retake it, as is required by the Coalition government’s current policy.

Mr Hunt’s intervention comes after skills minister Nick Boles announced on Tuesday that the government was reviewing its policy of requiring all post-16 students who failed to get a C grade in GCSE English or maths to retake the qualification.

Mr Boles told the AoC conference he had “listened intently” to concerns in the sector, and had commissioned the Education and Training Foundation to review the best way to accredit maths and English skills.

He has also instructed qualifications watchdog Ofqual to review level 2 functional skills courses, and look at whether they should be rebranded. But Mr Hunt told TES that he would prefer to see a completely new level 2 core maths qualification drawn up.

“The notion of getting students to resit and resit and resit GCSEs which they haven’t succeeded in, or plough endless amounts [of effort] into the C-D borderline, doesn’t seem to us right,” he said.

“So what I’m announcing today is our ambition to develop a level 2 core mathematics qualification, but as a post-16 qualification. Were happy with the level 3 core mathematics, we think that’s important, and we're going to continue with that, but I think there’s room for a level 2 core mathematics qualification for the 16-18 space."

Related stories:

Government to review policy on all students 'passing' GCSE english and maths - November 2014

Maths teachers lack confidence and qualifications, report finds – September 2014

Tailor-make exams so they’re ‘fit for purpose’ – September 2014

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