Earlier today, Rishi Sunak announced the Conservative Party’s commitment to delivering a number of changes to our country’s 16-18 education system in his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. Namely, the Prime Minister set out plans to tackle low literacy and numeracy rates, with all students set to study some form of English and maths until the age of 18. He also confirmed that bonuses for incentivising teacher recruitment and retention will be extended to the Further Education sector for the first time.
An accompanying document released by the Department for Education promises an additional £150 million of investment to support students who don’t pass maths and English GCSE at 16 to gain these fundamentals. It also outlines plans to invest in improving the quality of maths teaching, and developing a wider evidence base for closing attainment gaps amongst 16-19 year olds.
We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to ensuring young people reach the level of English and maths they need to unlock opportunities, and to providing extra help to those who struggle most in English and maths education. We now hope that the form this extra help takes listens to evidence and includes high-quality, small group tuition as a fundamental part of closing the enduring attainment gap that exists between disadvantaged young people and their peers.
At present, the 16 to 19 tuition fund is only confirmed until August 2024. This is currently the only source of funding ringfenced for targeted interventions that support disadvantaged 16-to-19-year-olds with low prior attainment. If it is not extended, then the government will struggle to realise their ambition of getting impactful extra help to those that need it most.
With the Prime Minister’s promise that education will be a priority in future spending reviews, we look forward to hearing more on tutoring and support for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in further education in the coming weeks.
Photo credit: Ben Mullins (free to use under the Unsplash License).