Resits in GCSE English language rise by a third after first year of reformed exams

The number of students resitting the English language GCSE has risen by almost a third in the first year of the reformed exams, despite an overall drop in the number of pupils retaking exams.

Statistics released by Ofqual show there was an overall drop of 19 per cent in GCSE entries for the November resits, from 84,450 to 67,985.

However, there was still a sharp rise in the number of entries for the English language exam, with resits increasing by 29 per cent from 25,610 in 2016 to 32,970 this year.

Resits for maths fell by 41 per cent, from 58,840 to 34,790. Just 13 per cent of the entries were for the higher paper, and the remaining 87 per cent took the foundation paper.

This year marked the first year the reformed GCSEs were available in English language, English literature and maths, graded on a scale of 9 to 1 instead of A* to G. The November entries were the first opportunity for students who received their results this summer to retake the English language and maths exams.

Since August 2015, full-time students who did not achieve a grade C (or a grade 4 from 2017) or above in English and maths GCSE must keep studying the subjects in order to receive funding for post 16 study.

In November 2016, the penultimate opportunity to resit the legacy specifications, overall entry for GCSEs increased by 24 per cent. The only resits available this year in English and maths are for the reformed 9-1 specifications, and entry levels have fallen back in line to the numbers seen in 2015.

GCSE results this summer showed 53 per cent of grades in English language, English literature and maths were a grade 5 or higher, with 71 per cent hitting a grade 4 or above.

Of the three reformed subjects, grades in English language were the lowest with 53.3 per cent achieving a grade 5 or above and 69.9 per cent getting a grade 4 or above. However, the grade 4 result was still a rise on last year’s results, when 60 per cent achieved a grade C or above.

In maths, 49.7 per cent of pupils got a grade 5 or above and 70.7 per cent received a grade 4 or above. This was also a rise on 2016, when 62 per cent of pupils received a grade C or above.