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Half-baked Changes to Maths and English Show David Cameron Is Out of Touch With Business

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At last year's Labour Party conference, Ed Miliband announced proposals for radical reforms to the education system in this country. Transforming vocational education with a gold standard Technical Baccalaureate for all to aspire to at 18. A plan for the 'Forgotten 50%'; for those who do not want to go to university. Ed also announced Maths and English should be compulsory for all to 18. Bold moves, backed by business. The CBI joined Labour arguing for compulsory Maths and English to 18.

Labour has gone further. The quality of teaching is so important in all of this. That is why we have said that all teachers in Further Education colleges - where huge numbers of 16-19 year olds are taught - will have to meet a new minimum requirement in Maths and English to be allowed to teach. We too have ruled out allowing unqualified teachers to teach in schools; a contrast to the Government's policy of allowing unqualified teachers to teach on a permanent basis.

In October of last year, the response from the Tories to our proposals was to claim that this package of reforms would 'leave thousands of young people unemployable'.

Now, a year later, the Government says it will proceed with its half-baked changes that will see only some pupils - those failing to reach grade C at GCSE in Maths and English - continue to study these subjects past 16.

David Cameron has wasted a whole year since Labour's announcement and the Government is only halfway there. With around one million 16- 24 year olds not in education, employment or training, delays like this show just how out of touch David Cameron is with employers and the labour market challenges facing young people.

Of course it is right that those who fail to reach the expected level should continue. But this does not go far enough. Research published by The Sutton Trust shows that in high performing jurisdictions, continued Maths for all during the upper phase of secondary education is one of the hallmarks of success.

In this country, only a quarter of young people in education between 16-18 continue studying maths, a contrast to 95% in Hong Kong and 90% in Germany; some of the best performing education systems.

A poll of young people conducted for the Sutton Trust research revealed that almost two thirds of 11-16 year olds believe that they should continue learning Maths and English to 18.

From today the education leaving age is raised to 17 and this will rise to 18 from 2015. We have heard surprisingly little from Ministers on this huge change. Again, we see that the school to work transition isn't a priority from this Government.

By refusing to address the challenges to the labour market facing young people, David Cameron is happy to stand by. Labour has a clear plan for all young people, with radical changes in vocational education for the Forgotten 50%. But more than three years in, this Government has left too many young people behind.

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