13/01/2017 08:26 GMT | Updated 14/01/2018 05:12 GMT

Providing Our Future Leaders With Lifelong Skills In Maths And English

MK College has, along with the rest of the college sector, witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of students retaking Maths and English GCSEs - as much as a 2990% in the last three years alone. The rapid upturn has predominantly been as a result of the Government's 2013 regulation that all teenagers who fail to achieve at least a grade C in English and Maths GCSEs, will have to continue studying the subjects until achieve or reach the age of 18.

Under these new rules, which has seen gaining an A*- C GCSE grade in English or maths as a condition of funding for further education, the intake of students looking to retake these core subjects in Milton Keynes has increased from 55 to almost 1,700 in the space of just two years. While few would debate the considerable benefits of improving levels of English and Maths in our teenagers, particularly when it becomes so apparent how many have needed to retake, it has been a hugely challenging policy to implement, in a very short space of time.

To cater to this mammoth increase in volume, we have had to source fully qualified, good English and Maths teachers at a time when we, as a nation, are experiencing a national shortage of teachers of this high calibre. Fortunately, since the 2013 guidelines were put in to place, we have been able to grow our team rapidly, and with 40 members of staff now teaching these subjects, it is one of the biggest departments in the College.

It is a real testament to the quality of staff we've appointed, and what a remarkable team we now have, that students are motivated to work so hard to improve their skills and achieve better grades. This takes inspiring teaching to engage young people and a commitment from all teachers, not just English and maths specialists, to put English and maths at the heart of all learning activities.

Milton Keynes has one of the 10% lowest qualification rates, on entry to college, in the country and whilst our young people have great ambitions of becoming a chef, an engineer, teacher or a cyber-guru they are sometimes daunted at the thought that to realise these ambitions, they need to keep improving their English skills and their maths skills.

Teaching these students and gaining their understanding as to how they can apply English and maths to their chosen vocation is key to their success, and all staff at the College work hard to demonstrate how valuable English and maths skills are 'in the real world', we truly believe that supporting our students to become skilled in these two critical skills will enable them to have even more successful and fulfilling futures. Yes we're implementing government policy, but more than that, we see driving both English and maths as essential to our core purpose of transforming lives through learning.

I am so proud of how our students and our teachers have grasped the challenge. Today's students are the leaders and decision makers of the future.

Implementing the Government's policy has certainly been challenging, yes. Improving the skills of our future leaders was unlikely to be easy, but MK College has risen to this challenge. I believe this new policy is key to transforming the lives of all of our students and it has certainly been a challenge worth tackling.