Download your free copy of the FE Week 16-page special on maths and English education and policy in FE, sponsored by Tribal.

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Numeracy and literacy levels are apparently at crisis point among young adults and the FE sector has been ordered by the government to pick up the pieces.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed England and Ireland to be lagging behind much of the rest of the world for these key skills.

Now all post-16-year-olds who fail to secure a C grade at GCSE will have to carry on studying the subjects, so colleges must figure out how they are going to teach all the extra learners.

The question of how we should reverse decades of maths and English decline has become the topic of passionate debate in the House of Commons and provoked widespread discourse among the general public and media.

The government hopes to achieve this through new maths and English GCSEs, the details of which have now been spelled out by Ofqual. But many senior figures in FE have expressed concern about these being enforced upon colleges.

They fear the sector is already having to shoulder too much blame for national numeracy and literacy failings and take on the brunt of responsibility for turning things around.

This is why FE Week thought the time was right to publish a 16 page supplement, providing extensive coverage on one of the most important issues the sector has had to get to grips with in generations.

We have started with reports on the new GCSEs and FE teaching enhancement programmes (p.3).

This is followed with a comparison of the merits of traditional and technology-driven teaching (p. 4 and p.5).

We then look at GCSEs and functional skills qualifications (p.6 and p.7) and have published a series of informed comment pieces from our panel of experts (p.10, p.11 and p.12).

Next, is a report on the OECD’s findings on literacy and numeracy (p.13), then MPs who took part in the debate on numeracy and literacy update us with their views.

Don’t forget, as always, you can let us know your opinion on the FE Week website, or tweet us @FEWeek.