AELP has recently written to the Skills Minister asking for a full review of the English and maths requirements in Early Years including Apprenticeships. We have raised the issue of the 5 year rule which is no longer a requirement in Trailblazer standards and as we have always said should be dropped from the SASE requirements. We are pleased that the government has now agreed to do just that. In the longer term we are committed to raising the standards of English and maths in early years but we believe that Functional Skills is a full equivalent to GCSEs. The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has been asked to do a review of Functional Skills and until that review is completed Functional Skills should be included as an equivalent qualification to GCSEs as it is in all other Apprenticeships. The difficulty of developing a work based programme where there is only a small window to take exams is not appropriate for Apprenticeships. The government made a small concession to delay bringing in GCSEs as an entry requirement but demanding GCSE as an exit requirement has restricted the opportunity of progression for many young people. The number of starts in early years is far lower than last year. We have recommended a full review of the long term requirements for the sector because the current proposals are not employer driven.