Compulsory maths and english for those aged 16-18?

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Compulsory maths and english for those aged 16-18?

Should it be compulsory for students to study maths and English up to the age of 18?


t the beginning of this school term, the coalition government announced that it is now compulsory for students who have not managed to achieve grades A*-C at GCSE level in maths and English, are to continue to study these subjects to the age of 18. Michael Gove the Secretary of State for Education has said the main driving force behind this new policy is to boost the skills employers’ value the most. However, what are the practicalities of this new policy in terms of teachers and funding?  Is it the way students are taught maths and English the thing that needs to change? Alternatively, if the main aim is to develop the most important skills in the world of work, should all students study maths and English to the age of 18?

One of the main issues surrounding the government’s new policy is that of funding. The leader of the Association of School and College Leaders, Brian Lightman stated “The aim is right, but there are many questions the government needs to address urgently about how it will fund and implement its plan”. On a different side of the same argument, if we want to improve numeracy and literacy skills that are necessary in the world of work, should we change the maths and English curriculum? In reality, how often will people use ‘Pythagoras Theorem’ after they have left school?

The need, however, for improved numeracy and literacy skills is significant. The BBC reports that last year there were more than 250,000 19 year olds who were without a C grade or higher in maths and English. Professor Alison Wolf states that “good English and maths grades are fundamental to young people’s employment and education prospects,” and those who do not attain passes “are severely disadvantaged in the labour market.” With such importance lying on numeracy and literacy, do we follow Labour’s ambitious plans to make all students study maths and English up to 18? The Institute of Directors state that its “socially damaging and economically unsustainability” to lack numeracy and literacy skills, so is advancing every students actually the way forward?

What would you do if your constituency had a worryingly low pass rate for English and maths? Would you prioritise those students who had failed to pass GCSE maths and English only like our coalition, or would you consider the growing importance of good numeracy and literacy skills, and follow up on Labours idea to get all students to study these subjects up to 18?

– Samiha Begum

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