Schools hit with more fines as late GCSE exam entries rise 22%

The number of late GCSE entries increased by 22 per cent last year, despite dropping the year before, government data released this morning shows.

Ofqual has published figures on the number of late GCSE and AS and A-level entries for this summer’s exam series.

The number of late entries to GCSEs rose from 471,685 two years ago to 573,475 last year, which is a proportional increase from 3.3 per cent of entries being late last year to 4.2 per cent of total entries this year.

That comes despite late entries dropping to 3.2 per cent in 2015-16 after hovering at 3.3. per cent the year before that.

It means more schools will have had to pay hefty fines for entering pupils late to exams. For every pupil entered late, schools must pay a premium to exam boards. The cost of an exam doubles if a pupil is entered late and can triple if entered very late, at each of OCR, Pearson, WJEC and AQA.

The rise in late entries also comes despite hopes that moving from modular exams to linear GCSEs would help to reduce the figures, because schools were less likely to remove pupils last minute and had fewer decisions to make with regard to papers.

The exam board with the biggest increase in late entries was AQA. Late entries rose to 5.3 per cent of all entries to the board last year, from 3.2 per cent in 2016-17.

OCR had the next highest increase in late entries, rising to 4.7 per cent of all entries from 3.5 per cent in 2016-17.

Pearson saw its late entries actually reduce to 1.6 per cent last year from 2.8 per cent the year before. Late entries also reduced at WJEC, to 3.6 per cent of all entries to the board from 6.1 per cent in 2016-17.

The summer also saw a proportional rise in late entries to AS and A-levels, up to 2.7 per cent of total entries up from 2.3 per cent the year before.

All the exam boards saw their proportion of late entries shoot up for AS and A-level entries. The greatest rise was at WJEC, from 2.6 per cent in 2016-17 to 3.5 per cent this summer, followed by OCR, from four per cent to 4.6 per cent.

Overall there has been a 29 per cent decrease in AS and A-level certificates from 2016-17 to last year, “mainly due to the decoupling of AS and A-levels”, said the Ofqual release.