'Poorest students hit the hardest’ by GCSE resits

Calls for a change in policy as study links lack of progress with social deprivation

Stephen Exley

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College students from the most deprived parts of the country make the least progress in GCSE resits for English and maths, TES can reveal.

New analysis of this summer’s results by the Association of Colleges (AoC) shows that, on average, college students who had previously achieved a D grade in the subjects saw their grades drop after resits. And the decrease was most pronounced among students from the poorest parts of the country.

AoC chief executive David Hughes said that the current system – in which students without a C grade in either subject are required to retake it – “disadvantages students from deprived areas the most”.

In maths, results for students from the 10 per cent most deprived parts of England dropped on average by 0.8 of a grade – four times as much as in the least deprived areas. The pattern was similar in English: in the most deprived areas, students scores dropped by an average of 0.9, compared with 0.5 in the least deprived areas.

GCSE resits and grade drops

The AoC analysis also reveals that in maths, students’ grades tended to deteriorate more as time went on. Among 16-year-olds who previously achieved a D, scores dropped by an average of 0.4 of a grade; at 18, the drop had more than doubled to 0.9 of a grade.

The research found that overall drops in grades were significantly smaller among students taking IGCSEs, which the AoC said supported the view that a “new, more respected and positive pathway for young people who do not achieve the GCSE” was needed.

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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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