Sunderland teenagers should stay at school until the’ve passed English and Maths, say experts

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MOVES for teenagers to continue studying maths and English if they don’t make the grade at school have been welcomed on Wearside.

New Government measures mean those who fail to achieve at least a grade C in their maths or English GCSEs will have to continue to study the subjects from this term.

This means scores of young people in Sunderland schools and colleges will have to carry on the subjects until they are 18.

Councillor Robert Oliver, Tory spokesman for Education on Wearside, said: “Good English and maths skills are essential for the workplace with employers constantly calling for improvement in these two subjects with some young people being let down by their lack of literacy and numeracy.

“This measure is a key part of the agenda to reduce youth unemployment and ensure British young people can compete with other nationalities in the global economy.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Children and Families, said: “Labour raised the proportion of young people leaving school with at least a C in English and maths from a third in 1997 to over half in 2010, and set out in 2011 that we wanted this to become 100 per cent as the participation age rises to 18.

“It’s therefore welcome that the Government is finally waking up to the need to equip all young people with the literacy and numeracy skills modern employers need, but without a commitment to fund intensive lessons and support, this announcement won’t benefit many of the young people who struggle most with these subjects.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the subjects were the ones “employers demand before all others”.

But, the Association of Colleges says it will require 2,100 extra teachers nationally to implement. Up until now, pupils have been able to drop the subjects at the age of 16 without having gained a qualification in them, but this has prompted concern from employers’ organisations that too many young people lack literacy and numeracy skills necessary for work.

Teenagers who missed C grades will either re-take GCSEs in maths and English, or take other types of lessons in the subjects. In a separate measure also being introduced, the participation age for education and training is being increased to 17 this year and will be raised again in 2015 to 18.

This means young people will be expected to remain in some kind of education or workplace training, although there will be no sanctions as it is phased in.