Post-16 English and Maths

What are the changes for post-16 English and maths?

This August saw the introduction of a number-based GCSE grading scale for subjects English and maths. The grading scale is numbered from 1-9, with 9 being the best.

One of the key grades is grade 4 – the minimum pupils will need to achieve to avoid resitting English and maths. The Education and Skills Funding Agency has confirmed that students with a grade 3 (D) will have to retake the qualification, and will not be able to take functional skills instead.

However, 2016 GCSE results saw only 30% of learners over 17 achieve this level.

What are the issues facing the sector?

Many in the further education sector do not agree with the funding condition that full time students starting their study programme who have a grade 3 or D GCSE, or equivalent qualification in maths and/or English, must be enrolled on a GCSE. However, there is a shared vision that every young person should have the necessary grounding in English and maths. It is important that young people have skills in these subjects so that they are ready for work and can gain employment post study.

Another challenge is the lack of teaching capacity to meet the increased demand for GCSE re-sits. It is vital that the right staff are in place to support and motivate this group of learners with an emphasis on engagement and building confidence. Teaching post-16 English and maths requires enthusiasm for the subjects and teaching strategies that build student confidence. It is key to increase motivation and ensure good attendance, and in turn create an improvement in the success rates of reluctant learners.

Meet our chair…

Brian Creese, Education Specialist, UCL Institute of Education

Brian Creese has had a long and distinguished career in the field of educational research particularly in the FE sector. Before joining the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) Brian worked with the Department for Education Standards Unit, producing Improving Learning in Mathematics and the Engineering teaching resources for QIA’s National Teaching and Learning Change Programme. Brian contributes to teaching on the Post Compulsory Mathematics diploma and contributes many articles for a variety of publications and is a regular IOE blogger.

In the last 12 years Brian has specialised in projects for the Further Education Sector, particularly in literacy and numeracy. For three years Brian was the Faculty Director for Consultancy and Knowledge Transfer, and taught regularly on the Post compulsory maths PGCE course and recently co-authored a book Training to teach adults mathematics.

Interested in attending the next Raising Attainment in Post-16 English and Maths training course? Speak to a member of the team by calling 0800 542 9440 or email