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News - 3 September 2013

Teenagers must master English and maths

The government has confirmed that teenagers who fail to score at least a Grade C in English and maths GCSEs will have to continue studying the subjects. This could affect more than 250,000 young people in education or training in England.

The change coincides with another new policy which sees the education participation age raised.  It means 17-year-olds are legally required to be in college or school or some form of job-based training. The age will rise again to 18 in 2015.

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS comments:
“Last year, there were more than a quarter of a million 19-year-olds without a C grade in English and maths. Up until now, pupils have been able to drop the subjects at the age of 16 without having gained a qualification in them and many would never study these subjects again, prompting concerns from employers that too many young people lack skills necessary for work.”

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said: "For those who fail to get a C at GCSE, it's a huge impairment to their future life, their ability to participate not just in work but also as a citizen"

The importance of developing basic skills beyond the age of 16 was emphasised by Prof Alison Wolf in her report on improving vocational education for 14 to 19-year-olds. She found that too many vocational qualifications lacked value for employers and too many youngsters were entering adult life without adequate skills in literacy and numeracy.

But Labour’s shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, said more urgent action was needed.

"In 2012 Labour set out ambitious plans for all children to study English and maths to 18. A whole wasted year later and the government have only got half way there. This isn't good enough. [Prime Minister] David Cameron needs to listen to employers - they want all young people to continue building these key skills to 18."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It's critical the government works with schools and colleges to make sure that what is on offer for those young people is not marching them in and out of the exam room, but actually making sure they are developing by having an appropriate curriculum."

If you need any help and advice with Free Schools, Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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