Teenagers without C grades or higher in English and Maths will have to study for GCSEs in the subjects, but will be allowed to take other qualifications alongside them, said the Department for Education.
The English and Maths results of 16-19-year-olds who did not gain these key GCSEs will also be reported in annual school league tables, the department said.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said it was in the older teenagers best interest to remain in education to attain C grades, even if they were old enough to legally finish school.
Good qualifications in English and maths are what employers demand before all others. They are, quite simply, the most important vocational skills a young person can have. Young people must be able to demonstrate their understanding of these subjects.
More top news
Six adult cats have been rescued from inside an abandoned wheelie bin in a remote part of Cambridgeshire.
After the payday lender admits it failed to properly check potential borrowers, it now faces a challenge to regain customers' trust.
Horowitz will write a new novel based on an idea by the secret agent's creator Ian Fleming.