GCSE resits soar as students rush to last-chance retakes

The number of students taking GCSE resits in English and maths has soared by nearly a quarter as youngsters rush to seize the penultimate chance to retake exams before the new grading system is introduced.

Figures published by Ofqual today show the overall entry for resits in GCSE English, English language and maths rose from 68,180 in 2015, to 84,450 in November this year. The majority of these were year 12 students.

The exams regulator said the spike is down to this November’s round of retakes being the second to last chance for students to resit these GCSEs.

From next year these specifications will be no longer count in school performance tables and will be replaced by reformed 9-1 GCSEs.

Students now only have one last chance to re-sit current GCSE exams, in May or June next year. After this, students who took the old specifications would have to learn the new content and sit the new exams.

The breakdown of subjects shows that there was an increase of 25 per cent in maths and 40 per cent in English language.

However the numbers of entries for English dropped by 25 per cent. Ofqual said this pattern shows schools are “increasingly choosing to enter students for English language rather than English”.

Schools Week revealed last week how schools and colleges had lost almost £6 million in funding this year as a result of new rules around GCSE English and maths resits.

Under the government’s new study programmes, schools can lose half their per-pupil funding for every individual without a pass in the exams who does not continue studying the subjects when in post-16 study.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw also said this morning that the government’s resit policy was not working as ministers would have hoped.

Since 2013, all 16 to 18-year-old students who do not already have a grade C in English or maths have to continue studying the subjects.

But Wilshaw said: “Inspection evidence shows that, for some students, having to retake their GCSE can be demotivating and that attendance at these lessons is lower.”

He added that it “remains unclear” whether GCSE is the “best way of ensuring that students have the English and mathematical skills needed for their intended career”.

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