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Fully Functional

NCFE’s campaign to create a level playing field for English and maths

NCFE's purpose is to promote and advance learning. When it comes to English and maths we believe that equal opportunities aren’t given to all qualification types. There isn’t currently a level playing field for English and maths and we want to raise awareness of this issue and make a change to ensure that learners are given the opportunity to take the qualifications that are best for them.

Our ask – a level playing field for English and maths

We’re looking to the government to give English and maths alternative qualifications parity of esteem with GCSEs.

At present, any young person (aged between 16 and 18) who achieves a D (grade 3) in their GCSEs, has to re-sit their GCSE exams until they pass, is unable to do an alternative, equivalent qualification (eg Functional Skills) – this legislation is applied through funding. If learners get a grade E then they are permitted to do an alternative so the scope is narrow but the impact is large.

For those young people impacted, this repetitive resitting of exams that they’re unlikely to pass leads to a cycle of failure. The number of learners re-sitting is increasing year on year and only 1 in 4 learners will achieve a higher grade in their re-sit. This means that if 300,000 have to re-sit after getting a grade 3, only around 75,000 will achieve a pass, impacting confidence and prohibiting progression.

With this in mind, we would like the government to reverse the funding rule which states that full time students who have prior attainment of a grade 3 / D in GCSE or equivalent in maths and/or English must study a GCSE to meet the condition of funding with no option of an alternative or stepping stone qualification. We believe this will cater for different styles of learning and open up opportunities.

Our supporters


Message to the Government - Fund Functional Skills to reduce student stress

Read the full press release

English and maths for all

An open letter from NCFE

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Information about funding stipulations for English and maths

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Supporting statements

Testimonials of campaign support and statistics from our national survey

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The future of English and maths

We hosted a conference to highlight the current standings of these vital subjects as well as their future.

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