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English and maths 'to be taught up to 18'

The government has announced that pupils in England who fail to achieve at least a C grade at GCSE in English and maths will have to carry on taking the subjects to the age of 18.

18th Birthday

The government has announced that pupils in England who fail to achieve at least a C grade at GCSE in English and maths will have to carry on taking the subjects to the age of 18.

This follows concerns too many teenagers leave education without adequate skills in literacy and numeracy needed by employers. It will see some pupils re-taking GCSEs and others taking less demanding tests, aimed at improving basic skills.

This will apply from September 2013. The changes are set out in a written ministerial statement from Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Alongside high levels of youth unemployment have been complaints from employers that too many youngsters lack basic skills needed to make them employable. The statement quotes a CBI survey saying two in five employers were not satisfied with literacy levels among school leavers.

It also follows the report from Professor Alison Wolf which warned some pupils were being diverted into cul-de-sac vocational qualifications - when they lacked the basic skills they most needed.

More than 40,000 youngsters a year reach 19 without having had any further lessons in English, after failing the subject at 16, says the Department for Education. For maths, the figure is more than 60,000 each year.

The changes, linked to raising the leaving age for education and training, will mean youngsters in the education system beyond 16 will be expected to reach an adequate level in maths and English. Those who have already achieved a grade C or above at these subjects will be unaffected.

Under the proposals, the process of raising the compulsory age for education and training to 18 will be completed in 2015.

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