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Written Statements

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Business, Innovation and Skills

Maths and English (Post-16 Education)

The Minister for Skills and Enterprise (Matthew Hancock): I am today setting out the Government’s plans for strengthening English and maths in post-16 education, increasing uptake of reformed GCSEs in these subjects.

A total of 40% of pupils do not get GCSE grades A* to C in English and maths by age 16. Worse still, 90% of those who do not reach this basic standard by 16 do not achieve it by age 19. From August 2014 students who have not achieved a good pass in English and/or maths GCSE by age 16 must continue to work towards achieving these qualifications or an approved interim qualification as a “stepping stone” towards GCSE as a condition of student places being funded.

Reformed GCSEs in English and maths will be available for first teaching in schools from September 2015 with the first examinations being sat in summer 2017. These new GCSEs will both be more stretching at the top, and more practical than existing GCSEs.

These new GCSEs will then be introduced into post-16 education in phases between 2015 and 2020.

With effect from August 2015, we will amend the funding condition, so full-time students aged 16 to 19 with prior attainment of grade D in English and/or maths will take GCSE, rather than any other qualification in these subjects.

We will further revise the funding conditions relating to the teaching of the new GCSEs in English and maths to students aged 16 to 19 enrolling for full-time courses from August 2017. The final requirements will be set nearer the time, informed by the outcomes of Ofqual’s consultation on grading standards for the reformed GCSEs.

For many, reaching GCSE standard requires progressive stepping stones, for example through functional skills qualifications, and a curriculum that suits their needs. We will ensure that such stepping stones are available to support students en route to GCSE and that these are fit for purpose.

GCSE is also a valuable qualification for adults and the reformed GCSEs will assess many of the skills that employers tell the Government they need.

Our ambition is that, by 2020, adults aged 19 and over and apprentices of all ages studying English and maths will be working towards achievement of the reformed GCSEs, taking stepping-stone qualifications if necessary. Functional skills will continue to be part of apprenticeship completion requirements but we will work with apprenticeship providers to enable them to offer GCSEs to their apprentices.

We will launch a call for evidence, so that we can draw in advice from a wide range of stakeholders on how to reach this goal for young people, adults and in apprenticeships, and how far the new GCSEs meet the functional skill requirements of all adults and apprentices.

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In response to this call for evidence, we want stakeholders to advise us on how to ensure that all parts of the sector are ready to deliver against this new ambition.

We are also introducing high-quality new “core maths” qualifications—aimed at the 40% of young people who achieve a C or better at GCSE but do not take A-level maths. They will give some 200,000 students a year the opportunity to study maths in post-16 education, starting in 179 schools and colleges this autumn, before being rolled out nationally in 2015.

The majority of students who do not achieve A* to C GCSE English or maths at 16 go on to further education. As part of our plans to support these changes, we are publishing the FE work force strategy. This will set out the steps we are taking to improve the quantity and quality of teachers to support the delivery of maths and English; to increase business engagement in FE; to improve the quality of leadership and governance; and to enhance the use and effectiveness of technology to support teaching and learning.

We are announcing details of a new “golden hello” scheme for maths teachers recruited after April 2014, as part of a £30 million package to raise the quality of teaching in maths and English in FE. This includes bursaries to attract more graduate teachers and programmes to enhance the skills of existing maths and English teachers so they can teach GCSE. The Education and Training Foundation will play a lead role in implementing this strategy. This extra support for FE sits alongside incentives we have already announced to recruit high-quality maths teachers into schools, alongside significant investment in maths training and support for existing teachers.

From the beginning of academic year 2015-16, providers who teach English and maths GCSE to adults aged 19 and over outside apprenticeships will receive a higher rate of funding through the adult skills budget. In line with the policy outlined above, the Government will cease to fund level 2 qualifications and credit framework (QCF) English and maths qualifications from the same point, so that adults studying at level 2 will either take functional skills or GCSE.

These changes build on wider reforms under this Government to put academic and vocational education on an equal footing. We are reforming apprenticeships to put employers in the driving seat and make apprenticeships more rigorous and responsive to the needs of business. Our new technical awards are as rigorous and demanding as the new reformed GCSEs and will give 14 to 16-year-olds real-life skills in practical subjects. TechLevels for those aged 16 to 19 must be signed off by employers. Technical awards and TechLevels comprise a clear set of high-quality options for students wishing to follow a vocational route, and so help ensure all young people better get the chance to achieve their potential.


Double Taxation Agreement (Tajikistan)

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): A double taxation agreement and protocol with Tajikistan was signed on 1 July 2014. The text of the agreement and protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on

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HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Arms Embargo (Azerbaijan and Armenia)

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): The UK regularly reviews export policy to embargoed destinations in the light of our international obligations and the situation on the ground, to ensure that implementation continues to be legally robust, diligent and consistent with the terms of the sanctions in place.

Following a thorough review of their procedures for processing export and trade licence applications to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Government will continue to apply the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) embargo to the supply of military list equipment to military, police and security forces and related governmental entities, where this equipment could be used in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, or on the land border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. For the supply of military list equipment which does not have the technical capacity to be used or modified for use in the Nagorno-Karabakh region or on the land border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Government will consider licence applications in line with the consolidated EU and national export licensing criteria. Supplies of military list equipment to other end-users; such as, humanitarian, peacekeeping, research or media organisations, will not be considered subject to the embargo, unless there is a clear risk of diversion to the armed forces, police or security forces of either state.

All export and trade licence applications for Armenia and Azerbaijan as elsewhere will be assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and we will not issue a licence where to do so would be inconsistent with the criteria.

The south Caucasus is an area of strategic importance to the UK. In partnership with Armenia and Azerbaijan the UK continues to work for peace, security and mutual understanding in the region. In the 2012-13 financial year, the UK funded £1.245 million worth of projects to promote peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. On

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Nagorno-Karabakh we have funded a series of projects designed to strengthen the likelihood of a peaceful resolution of the conflict by working with civil society in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.

We strongly support the work of the OSCE Minsk group to find a peaceful and lasting resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is for this reason that the UK continues to adhere to the embargo on deliveries of military list equipment to forces engaged in combat in the Nagorno-Karabakh area in accordance with the precursor to the OSCE, the conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe’s declaration of 1992.


Local Government Pension Scheme

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jeremy Wright): Tameside metropolitan borough council, the operator of the Greater Manchester pension fund, has asked that we provide a guarantee that the Department will meet employer or employee pension contributions for employees that were former probation trust employees who have been transferred or are recruited to community rehabilitation companies while in ownership of the Secretary of State. The guarantee will be limited to where a community rehabilitation company becomes insolvent. I can inform the House today that we will provide such a guarantee in respect of each community rehabilitation company and a parliamentary minute, which sets out the detail of the guarantee, has been laid in both Houses.

The provision of the guarantee ensures continued pension provision in the local government pension scheme for staff following the sale of shares in community rehabilitation companies as part of a public procurement exercise.

The provision of the guarantee is considered to be value for money for the taxpayer as it will avoid community rehabilitation companies having to obtain appropriate security in relation to their pension obligations which would have been funded by the Secretary of State. Further, in some cases the inability to obtain the appropriate security may have prevented some companies from participating in the tender process.

I have placed copies of the associated documents in the Libraries of both Houses.