As a 16-year-old between GCSE and A-levels, I challenge Mike Tomlinson's statement that "If you have an A-level, no-one knows that you have the English and numeracy skills needed to progress".
This is, quite simply, incorrect. The vast majority of centres in England and Wales require at least grade Cs in English language and maths GCSE for the studying of AS and A-level courses. Therefore, prospective employers and universities will know that an individual has those basic skills, as without the C in the first place, they would not have been able to enrol on the A-level courses.
The new baccalaureate may require the compulsory learning of English and maths. It is clear to many - teachers and students alike - that the Department for Education and Skills has already tried (and failed) to make the two semi-compulsory in literacy and numeracy key skills - qualifications with about as much use as a water-proof sponge. Making them compulsory, probably to be renamed as "letters and numbers", will merely give students skills they already know, turn off those from sixth-form with a dread of English and maths, and place unnecessary pressure on over-stretched English and maths departments.
Roger Lewis. Old College Farm House. Magdalen Close. Synesham, Northamptonshire