Ipswich principal claims new rules over GCSE grades are putting extra burden on further education colleges

Viv Gillespie, new principal at Suffolk New College.

Viv Gillespie, new principal at Suffolk New College.

The principal of Suffolk New College has spoken of the “huge funding pressures” further education (FE) providers are under.

Viv Gillespie, who joined the Ipswich college in June, was responding to a report by Policy Exchange.

The education think-tank published the report highlighting that FE colleges in England teach a higher proportion of pupils re-sitting exams than schools.

Due to this, schools where pupils fail to get good GCSE grades in English and maths should pay a levy to fund students, the think-tank said.

Mrs Gillespie said: “The new rules surrounding students in further education who are still to achieve a grade C or above in English and maths have placed an additional burden on colleges, which are already under huge funding pressures.

“The Policy Exchange report highlights the difficult economic reality for the FE sector, which, unlike schools, has not had its budget protected.”

Over the summer 350 students achieved a GCSE grade A*-C in a resit of either English or maths.

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The Policy Exchange suggests secondary schools where pupils fail to achieve at least C grades in GCSE English and maths should face a financial penalty of about £500 per pupil which would be used to support students retaking exams in FE colleges.

The proposal was criticised by teaching unions, NUT and Association of School and College Leaders.

Mrs Gillespie added: “I am delighted that at Suffolk New College so many of our students sitting re-takes were successful, with more than 350 celebrating achieving a grade A*-C in maths or English. These results are testimony to the hard work of our students, the high quality of our teaching and the positive learning environment the college offers.”