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Adult Education: Mathematics

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many adult learners have taken GCSE mathematics in each year since 1990. (251994)

[holding reply 27 January 2009]: The following table shows the number of learners in further education undertaking GCSE Mathematics in each academic year since 2003-04 by age group, the earliest year for which we have comparable information.

Learners in further education undertaking GCSE Mathematics by age

Age

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Under 16

100

200

100

100

100

16-18

43,600

41,500

38,700

37,500

34,500

19+

23,400

22,200

20,000

18,200

15,800

Total

67,100

63,900

58,800

55,900

50,400

Notes:

1. Age is based on age as at 31 August (academic age).

2. This information does not include learners studying GCSE Mathematics in Schools or Higher Education Institutions.

3. If a learner is studying GCSE Mathematics over more than one year, they will be counted in each year for which they are studying.

Source:

FE ILR

Awarding body data on GCSE examination entries is analysed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families as part of the School and College Achievement and Attainment Tables publication. However, this work only covers qualifications entered for by 16-18 year olds. Therefore, we do not have information readily available on adults being entered for GCSE Mathematics examinations.

Due to the increased number of pupils taking and successfully passing a Maths GCSE at school, we would expect the volume of learners studying this qualification at a Further Education College to fall. In 1997, there were 534,700 15 year olds (academic age) attempting GCSE Mathematics and 250,300 achieving a C grade or higher (around 50 per cent. of those attempting the subject). In 2004, 606,000 pupils attempted GCSE Mathematics at the end of Key Stage 4 with 318,900 achieving a grade A*-C (around 53 per cent. of those attempting the subject). In 2008, 609,700 pupils attempted GCSE Mathematics at the end of Key Stage 4, with 361,100 achieving a grade A*-C (59 per cent. of those attempting the subject).

Over the last few years the Government have prioritised funding towards longer and fuller programmes such as full level 2 qualifications (equivalent of 5 A*-C GCSEs or vocational equivalent) away from a higher number of shorter courses. This has increased the number of adults achieving the broad platform of skills for entering and progressing into employment, but has necessarily resulted in an overall reduction in the number of LSC funded adult learners over this period.

A GCSE may not necessarily be the most appropriate learning outcome for many learners and colleges have been encouraged to advise learners to study the most relevant qualification to them. In 2007-08, learners on apprenticeship programmes (all ages) undertook over 156,000 Key Skills qualifications in Application of Number.