GCSE resits: 60k students boost English and maths grade

Thousands of post-16 students achieved a grade 4 - but resits pass rate has still fallen, says Association of Colleges

Stephen Exley

GCSE results 2019: The pass rate for GCSE resits in maths and English has fallen, according to the Association of Colleges

Around 60,000 GCSE resit students improved their grade in English or maths this summer to achieve a 4 or better, according to new data.

Using figures provided by Ofqual, the Association of Colleges (AoC) has calculated that nearly 36,000 post-16 resit students improved their GCSE English grade to a 4 or above, with almost 25,000 achieving this improvement in maths.

In addition, more than 10,000 adults received a grade 4 or above in English, along with 11,000 achieving this in maths, according to the AoC.

More news: GCSE results: English and maths resits pass rates drop

Background: GCSE English and maths: do I need to resit them?

Opinion: 'Soul-destroying GCSE resits are a national scandal'

GCSE resits 'need a major overhaul'

However, the proportion of GCSE resit students who achieved a "standard" grade 4 pass has fallen in both English and maths. Overall, less than a quarter of maths entries from candidates aged 17 and over across the UK resulted in a pass at grade 4 or better, with the pass rate dropping from 23.7 per cent in 2018 to just 22.3 per cent this summer.

AoC chief executive David Hughes said: “Congratulations to all the students who have been successful in their exams and a huge thank you to teachers supporting students through their English and maths resits.”

However, Mr Hughes added: “All of those successes must not hide the fact that the policy needs a major overhaul. Once again, around a third of 16-year-olds have not achieved the required grade 4 in English and in maths after five years of secondary schooling.

“Many will be excited to enrol in their local college but will be dismayed and upset that they have to resit exams which did not go well for them. Colleges will work their socks off to help as many to achieve as they can, but thousands will fail again – that’s always going to be the case because of the way GCSEs are norm-referenced.

“None of us like to fail, and yet we have a resit policy which forces young people to do that more than once. It is unfair and unnecessary. We need a policy which supports those likely to achieve the required grade in GCSE, but which also supports other approaches to boosting the written and spoken skills and numeracy of the thousands of students who want to succeed and not feel like failures.”

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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