GCSE results: English and maths resits pass rates drop

Fewer than a quarter of 17-plus students achieved a grade 4 in maths, with the English pass rate now less than a third

Stephen Exley

GCSE results 2019: the English and maths resits pass rates have dropped, new figures show

The proportion of GCSE resit students who achieved a "standard" grade 4 pass has fallen in both English and maths, official figures show.

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, according to data from the Joint Council for Qualifications published today.

In English, the pass rate dropped below a third, from 34.2 per cent last year to 31.9 per cent in 2019.

However, overall results in both subjects among students of all ages improved slightly. The pass rate at grade 4 or higher stood at 59.6 per cent in maths (up from 59.4 per cent last year) and 62 per cent in English (up from 61.8 per cent).

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

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

More news: Why students shouldn't be forced to resit

GCSE resits: Entries up in English and maths

In total, more than 290,000 students failed to achieve a grade 4 in English, with over 314,000 not reaching this benchmark in maths.

Entries were up among 17-plus students in both subjects. There were 180,672 entries in maths, up by more than 8,000 from last year, and 162,667 entries in English, an increase of almost 2,000 from 2018.

According to the Department for Education’s condition of funding rule affecting providers in England, all 16-19 students who have achieved a grade 3 in English or maths are required to retake the subject as part of their sixth-form studies. Those with a grade 2 or lower have the option of taking the reformed functional skills qualifications, which launch next month, instead.

GCSE policy change

In February, the government announced a change to the condition of funding surrounding English and maths GCSE resits for 2019-20. As at present, students with a grade 2 or below can either take a GCSE or functional skills level 2 qualification. But, once they have achieved this, “there is no requirement to undertake further maths or English qualifications to meet the condition of funding”.

The GCSE resits policy has proved controversial. Data published last summer by Impetus PEF showed that some students had sat their GCSEs as many as nine times. In November, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told the Association of Colleges’ annual conference that a Labour government would scrap the resits policy.

This week Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said that the introduction of the reformed functional skills qualifications meant it was time for the current resits policy to end, suggesting that an initial assessment could be used to ascertain whether GCSE or functional skills would be most appropriate for each student.

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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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