10. DfE should replace the English and maths condition of funding

Recommendation 10

DfE should replace the English and maths condition of funding with rules that rely on professional judgement of school and college leaders and introduce new English and maths qualifications for professional and technical students.

DfE has introduced compulsory English and maths for all 16 to 18-year-olds who do not have GCSE English or maths at grade C or above. This means they must continue to re-sit the exam until they are successful. There are large numbers of young people involved; the majority of whom end up in college. 67% of those resitting English and 77% of those resitting maths did so at a sixth form or FE college[1]. The condition of funding is a blunt instrument to achieve this objective, because there is no leeway where a student started midway through the year or if they refuse to enrol for a course. The requirement for concurrent English and maths classes for those on two-year courses limits timetable flexibility. In addition, GCSEs also do not necessarily test skills used in the workplace. The policy towards English and maths was implemented with little consultation and was not properly tested. It relies on a system of penalties rather than a more effective approach of trusting professionals but measuring their decisions publicly and fairly in accountability systems and via inspection.


[1] Policy Exchange, Crossing the line: improving success rates among students taking English and maths GCSE, August 2015.