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A grounding in functional skills is essential. The 14–19 Education and Skills White Paper set out our plans to toughen GCSEs so that no-one can get a higher grade in English and maths without achieving mastery of the functional basics. We are also introducing a general diploma to recognise those who achieve five good GCSEs or equivalent, including English and maths. Functional English and maths will be a core element of our new specialised diplomas.