GCSE resits: Lib Dems to call for policy to be scrapped

Liberal Democrat party conference will also discuss whether to back a pay rise for college staff

Julia Belgutay

The Lib Dems will debate whether to call for an end to GCSE resits

The Liberal Democrats are set to call for an end to the GCSE resit policy.

At the party's autumn conference, which takes place in Bournemouth from 14-17 September, a motion will be tabled calling on the government to re-prioritise further education.

This includes "extending the teachers' pay grant to further education colleges and sixth-form colleges to enable them to fund a pay rise for teaching staff".

The motion also calls for an end to the condition of funding, which requires students who have achieved a grade 3 at GCSE in English or maths to resit the qualification. It says that they should instead be able to "take a free course of English or maths study suited to their needs alongside their main course”.

This follows the announcement by shadow education secretary Angela Rayner in November that a future Labour government would abolish the policy.

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

Background: GCSE resits: 'Look how far you have come'

Read on: GCSE resits: 60k students boost English and maths grade

Drop in funding

The motion, tabled by education spokesperson Layla Moran (pictured), notes that annual funding for a student in 16-19 education in England has fallen by 18 per cent in real terms since 2010 and two in five further education colleges are in deficit. It also highlights the cuts the adult education budget has seen since 2015, and the skills deficit the UK faces.

It adds: "Too many people feel disempowered because they lack the skills and/or qualifications to advance their careers in a changing economy”, and calls on the government to increase funding for FE.

Last week, it was revealed that the proportion of GCSE resit students who achieved a "standard" grade 4 pass had fallen in both English and maths. According to data from the Joint Council for Qualifications, fewer 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. In English, the pass rate dropped below a third, from 34.2 per cent last year to 31.9 per cent in 2019.

The GCSE resit policy means that many students have to repeatedly resit those exams. On results day, City College Plymouth student Lauren Reid found out she had passed GCSE maths on her ninth attempt. She told Tes: “I saw that the [national pass] rate had dropped – but I did it. I was just thrilled,” she says. “I was always on a grade 3 and only a few marks off. I had thought about giving up. After the fourth attempt, I just didn’t want to do it any more.”

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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