Students given two final chances to resit legacy GCSEs

Stephen Exley

Students who fail to obtain a C grade in GCSE English or maths this summer will be given two final opportunities to resit the legacy qualifications, Ofqual has confirmed.

The final summer sitting of the exams for the current GCSEs in English, English language and maths was due to take place this year, ahead of the transition to the new, tougher qualifications – including what has been dubbed “big fat maths”. However, the exams regulator has been consulting on plans to offer extra sittings of the legacy GCSEs in November and in summer 2017. Following a public consultation, Ofqual today confirmed that exam boards will be required to offer the two final resit opportunities.

The move is particularly significant for colleges. Learners who have not achieved a good pass in either of the subjects first time around are required to retake the qualifications. This has caused significant difficulties for colleges, with many having to hire external facilities and cancel classes to cope with the rapid expansion in numbers of students taking the subjects. And experts warned that the problems would be compounded by learners having to embark on a completely new curriculum.

But following the consultation, the qualifications regulator has today confirmed that exam boards must provide two resit opportunities for legacy English, English language and maths: one in November, and another in summer 2017. If students have still not achieved a pass at this point, they will have to prepare for the reformed GCSEs instead. In addition, students taking legacy AS and A levels will have the opportunity to resit them in May or June the following year.

Julie Swan, Ofqual’s acting executive director for general qualifications, said the move would prevent students having to “effectively study for a new qualification if things don’t go to plan the first time around”.

“We are…requiring exam boards to offer resits in those GCSEs that are crucial in allowing students to progress,” she added. “This is essential to maintain fairness between cohorts, particularly at such a pivotal point in students’ academic careers. We came to these decisions after our consultation showed overwhelming support for them.

“We are placing restrictions on who can take these resits. These are to ensure that only those students who need to access a resit take them and those that we expect to take a reformed GCSE, AS or A level qualification do that instead.”

The full consultation outcome can be read here, and the dates for last teaching, last exams and resits in legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels have also been updated.

The announcement was welcomed by Catherine Sezen, 14-19 and curriculum senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges. “Today’s decision from Ofqual will have a positive impact on the future of the thousands of students for whom colleges offer the opportunity to take GCSE English and maths resits,” she said. “It will allow them to resit the same exam syllabus they studied for at school.

“We have campaigned to ensure these resit opportunities are available and the impact of Ofqual’s decision cannot be underestimated. This will be welcomed by colleges as they want to offer the best possible chance for their students to succeed.”

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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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